Nav: Home

New brain tumor imaging technique uses protein found in scorpion venom

May 09, 2019

LOS ANGELES (May 9, 2019) - A novel imaging technique that uses a synthesized form of scorpion venom to light up brain tumors has shown promise in a clinical trial. The imaging system enables neurosurgeons to better see malignant growths that often are difficult to fully eliminate.

Results from the multi-institutional clinical trial, led by investigators from Cedars-Sinai and sponsored by Blaze Bioscience, Inc., appear in the journal Neurosurgery.

The new imaging technique that was studied uses a special high-sensitivity near-infrared camera developed at Cedars-Sinai, along with the imaging agent tozuleristide, or BLZ-100, developed by Blaze. The agent contains a synthetic version of an amino acid compound found in scorpion venom.

Like the natural form of the compound, the synthetic version is not toxic and binds to tumor cells. It is attached to a fluorescent dye that glows when stimulated by a near-infrared laser. Viewed through the camera, the imaging agent might allow neurosurgeons to detect the boundaries between tumors and healthy brain tissue during surgery, improving the opportunity for surgeons to remove tumor cells while sparing normal brain tissue.

"With this fluorescence, you see the tumor so much clearer because it lights up like a Christmas tree," said Adam Mamelak, MD, senior author and investigator in the trial.

That is important because of the sprawling nature of gliomas, the type of brain tumors imaged during the trial. Gliomas are highly lethal and comprise about 33% of all brain tumors. They can infiltrate brain tissue with tentacle-like structures, making them difficult to distinguish from normal brain tissue. They typically do not respond to traditional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. The key to extending patient survival depends on a surgeon's ability to detect and remove all parts of the tumor.

In the clinical trial, 17 adult patients with brain tumors were given varying doses of BLZ-100 before surgery. Despite the varying amounts of the drug given, the majority of tumors fluoresced, including both high- and low-grade gliomas. After surgery, patients were monitored for 30 days. Investigators found that none of the patients had any serious adverse responses to the drug, and that the imaging system was safe and could be useful for imaging the brain tumors during surgery.

More clinical trials are needed to further evaluate the safety of the imaging system and demonstrate the system's effectiveness before BLZ-100 can gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and the camera used in the trial must be refined before it can be used seamlessly in an operating room. But Mamelak said the clinical trial results were promising.

"For a surgeon, this seamless integration of fluorescence imaging into the surgical microscope is very appealing," Mamelak said.

Unlike other experimental systems that are bulkier or rely on multiple cameras, the new imaging system uses a single camera that takes both near-infrared and white-light images by alternating between a laser and normal white lights at very high speeds. This technology enables surgeons to easily switch back and forth between "normal" vision using a surgical microscope and fluorescent "super-vision" on a nearby monitor, in real time.

The next phase of this research, already underway, is a clinical trial involving pediatric brain tumors, taking place at up to 14 sites nationwide. This trial will serve as a data set for potential FDA approval. A similar adult clinical trial is also being planned. Although Mamelak is not directly involved in performing research during this phase, he and others are eager to see if the imaging approach has applications beyond neurosurgery.

"The technique in this study holds great promise not only for brain tumors but for many other cancer types in which we need to identify the margins of cancers," said Keith L. Black, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai. "The ultimate goal is to bring greater precision to the surgical care we provide to our patients."
-end-
Discolsure: Pramod Butte, MBBS, PhD and Adam Mamelak, MD are consultants for Blaze Bioscience, Inc. Pramod Butte, MBBS, PhD; Keith Black, MD and Adam Mamelak, MD are shareholders of Blaze Bioscience, Inc.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: This Gene May Explain Why Some Brain Tumors Grow so Fast

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Related Tumor Cells Articles:

Engineered T cells may be harnessed to kill solid tumor cells
A new Tel Aviv University study finds that a form of immunotherapy used to treat the blood cancer leukemia may be effective in treating other kinds of cancer as well.
Neurons promote growth of brain tumor cells
In a current paper published in the journal 'Nature', Heidelberg-based researchers and physicians describe how neurons in the brain establish contact with aggressive glioblastomas and thus promote tumor growth / New tumor activation mechanism provides starting points for clinical trials.
Scientists develop technology to capture tumor cells
Instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, what if you were able to sweep the entire haystack to one side, leaving only the needle behind?
Tumor cells' drug addiction may be their downfall
Work by researchers at the Babraham Institute in partnership with the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca shows how cancer cells' acquired resistance to anti-cancer drugs proves fatal once the treatment compound is withdrawn.
The fluid that feeds tumor cells
MIT biologists have found that the nutrient composition of the interstitial fluid that normally surrounds pancreatic tumors is different from that of the culture medium normally used to grow cancer cells.
A bad influence: the interplay between tumor cells and immune cells
Research at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) yielded new insights into the environment surrounding different types of lung tumors, and described how these complex cell ecosystems may in turn ultimately affect response to treatment.
Scientists create a complete atlas of lung tumor cells
Researchers from VIB, Leuven University and University Hospital Leuven studied thousands of healthy and cancerous lung cells to create the first comprehensive atlas of lung tumor cells.
Childhood cancer: The four survival strategies of tumor cells
Cancer cells in children tend to develop by following four main trajectories -- and two of them are linked to relapse of the disease, research led by Lund University in Sweden shows.
Mutation promts lung tumor cells to morph into gut cells
Researchers were surprised when they recently spotted a miniature gut hidden in the cells of lung tumor samples.
Versatile sensor against tumor initiating cells
The IBS researchers developed the first fluorescent sensor to visualize TICs.
More Tumor Cells News and Tumor Cells Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.