Department of Chemistry

Your Name
Friend's Email Address

Fluorescence-guided ovarian cancer surgery

    The first fluorescence-guided surgery on an ovarian cancer patient was performed using a cancer cell "homing device" and imaging agent created by Philip Low, the Ralph C. Corely Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

    The surgery was one of 10 performed as part of the first phase of a clinical trial to evaluate a new technology to aid surgeons in the removal of malignant tissue from ovarian cancer patients. The method illuminates cancer cells to help surgeons identify and remove smaller tumors that could otherwise be missed.

    Low who invented the technology, said surgeons were able to see clusters of cancer cells as small as one-tenth of a millimeter, as opposed to the earlier average minimal cluster size of 3 millimeters in diameter based on current methods of visual and tactile detection.

    "Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to see, and this technique allowed surgeons to spot a tumor 30 times smaller than the smallest they could detect using standard techniques," said Low, who also is a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. "By dramatically improving the detection of the cancer - by literally lighting it up - cancer removal is dramatically improved."

    The technique attaches a fluorescent imaging agent to a modified form of the vitamin folic acid, which acts as a "homing device" to seek out and attach to ovarian cancer cells. Patients are injected with the combination two hours prior to surgery and a special camera system, called a multispectral fluorescence camera, then illuminates the cancer cells and displays their location on a flat-screen monitor next to the patient during surgery.

Read full Purdue press release and view video of surgery

Related links:

ABC News story & video
CBS News story & video
WTHR-TV Indianapolis story & video
KSTP-TV Minneapolis story & video
Nature News story

Source: Purdue University News Service


Dr. Low
Philip Low
Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor—Biochemistry

Paul Shepson, Head
Feedback | E-mail Webmaster

Purdue University, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5200
© 2010 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints
If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact the Webmaster at