AsianScientist (Dec. 14, 2015) – Scientists at the Center for Nanoparticle Research within Korea’s Institute for Basic Science (IBS) have developed a multifunctional endoscope that integrates transparent bioelectronics with theranostic nanoparticles. The new device, described in Nature Communications, has the potential for precision treatment and removal of cancerous cells through minimally invasive procedures.
Ninety percent of cancer deaths are due to tumors spreading throughout the body, a process called metastasis. Individual cancer cells detach from a tumor and pervade a body through blood vessels. While many cancerous cells die in transit, others migrate through the body before leaving blood vessels and reproducing in a new location.
Conventional endoscopes lack the spatial resolution necessary to detect and treat small cancers and other abnormalities. They are equipped with a flexible tube fitted with a camera, lens and light delivery system, providing both maneuverability and direct visualization of the gastrointestinal tract. However, onboard sensors coupled with treatments are unavailable because of the large size of the conventional system, preventing diagnosis and therapy of micro-scale tumors.
A team of researchers led by the director of the Center for Nanopaticle Research Professor Hyeon Taeghwan has developed a multifunctional surgical endoscope system to diagnose and treat intestinal diseases, such as colon cancers. This ‘smart’ endoscope system contains transparent bioelectronics, which provide pH-based sensing combined with radio frequency ablation (RFA), a medical procedure in which part of the electrical conduction of a tumor is ablated using heat generated from a medium frequency alternating current.
The system’s additional sensors for monitoring mechanical contacts and mapping temperatures provide accurate physiological sensing capabilities during cancer detection and ablation. The transparency enables optimal integration of a number of multifunctional sensing and therapeutic components on the endoscope tip without blocking the line of sight of the camera or light.
By loading transparent bioelectronics on the endoscope’s camera, the tissue observed through the camera in fluorescence mapping and phototherapies can be exactly matched with the characterized ablated tissues.
The system also has custom-designed biocompatible nanoparticles with phototherapeutic and chemotherapeutic agents, which can be delivered locally and activated with light. According to the researchers, this multifunctional endoscopic system could be useful for the detection of flat or depressed abnormal growths.
Mice were given an intravenous injection of nanoparticles was administered to actively target colon cancer cells. Imaging of fluorescence dyes loaded on these nanoparticles provided optical information about the spatial distribution of cancer cells, while the endoscope allowed laser light to access the sites exposed to nanoparticles. The transparent bioelectronics and associated sensors provided additional electrochemical analysis of the tumor distribution.
After a two week treatment plan, the tumors significantly decreased on the mouse model. However, when tumors were treated without injecting nanoparticles or using chemo-drugs, the tumor volume increased. The combined therapy group exhibited a marked decrease in the tumor volume.
Direct control of the laser light, which is delivered through an optical fiber and guided with the endoscope, can overcome many issues related to the penetration depth of light. Because colon cancers are normally located in superficial regions, the team’s system is less affected by the penetration depth problem of light in comparison with other tumor cases.
Multifunctional endoscope systems have the potential to reduce the procedure time and improve the efficiency of minimally invasive surgical procedures for colon cancer treatment, said the researchers.
Source: Institute for Basic Science.
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