Jan 29, 2021
Experts at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh are developing a new system that will help surgeons better distinguish cancer cells from normal tissues and remove them without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. The new system will be based on an ultrafast picosecond laser, which provides energy in a series of pulses that are one trillionth of a second long. Professor Jonathan Shepard received a £1.2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) to develop the system.
The team has proven that this concept is effective for colorectal cancer and is now working with clinicians from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust to develop a new system for brain cancer.
Professor Shephard said. "Previously we focused on colorectal cancer. Experiments have shown that our laser system can remove cancer cells in a way that is almost the same width as human hair and limit damage to surrounding healthy cells. Combined with the use of laser in clinical surgery for colorectal cancer Based on our understanding, we are working hard to apply it to brain cancer, head and neck cancer, and bring huge benefits to patients."
"The most important principle of any cancer surgery is to ensure that all cancer cells are removed. Failure to do this will lead to cancer recurrence. This is the ultimate test of accuracy, even if it is the microscopic loss of healthy tissue and nearby important Structural damage can also cause serious functional consequences and have a huge impact on the quality of life." He added.
The team will also focus on developing a flexible, fiber-based system that can target and remove cancer cells two orders of magnitude smaller than current technology can remove.
Professor David Jayne, a surgical consultant at the NHS Trust of Leeds Teaching Hospital, said: "Surgical lasers have opened up exciting new methods for cancer surgery. The precision of lasers combined with imaging technology to accurately distinguish cancer and normal tissues will greatly improve surgeons. The ability to completely eliminate cancer while minimizing the side effects of surgery on patients."
It is reported that in the next three years, the team will work on developing the system.