The idea of making brain cancers glow to help surgeons operate is being tested in the UK. Patients will be given a drug, 5-amino-levulinic acid (5-ALA), which causes a build-up of fluorescent chemicals in the tumour.
The theory is that the pink glow will clearly mark the edges of the tumour, making it easier to ensure all of it is removed. More than 60 patients with glioblastoma will take part in the trial. They have cancerous glial cells, which normally hold the brain’s nerves cells in place. On average patients survive 15 months after being diagnosed.
In some cancers, such as those of the colon, some of the surrounding tissue can be removed as well as the tumour. Removing a brain tumour needs to be more precise. Dr Colin Watts, who is leading the trial at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that surgeons “don’t want to take too much functional tissue away”.
The trial will then test whether applying drugs directly to the tumour improves survival rates.
More here Glowing brain tumour trial begins.