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Researchers have developed an improved method for performing sentinel lymph node biopsy, a crucial first step in determining whether a cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The new method depends on quantum dots, nanometer-sized crystals that emit near-infrared light, to illuminate lymph nodes during cancer surgery. The research, resulting from collaboration between researchers at MIT, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will be published in the January issue of Nature Biotechnology.
The new near infra-red quantum dots were developed and synthesized at the MIT department of chemistry in the laboratory of Professor Moungi Bawendi, a scientific co-founder and advisory board member of Quantum Dot Corporation (QDC). The novel intraoperative, near-infrared fluorescence imaging system was developed in the laboratory of Dr. John Frangioni, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Harvard Medical School and an Attending Physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The study, entitled “Near-Infrared Fluorescent Type-II Quantum Dots for Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping,” by Sungjee Kim, and colleagues, describes how the quantum dots were injected into live pigs and followed visually to the lymph system just beneath the skin of the animals. The new imaging technique allowed the surgeons to clearly see the target lymph nodes without cutting the animals’ skin.
Sentinel Lymph Node (SLN) mapping, the surgical technique employed in the study, is a common procedure used to identify the presence of cancer in a single, “sentinel” lymph node, thus avoiding the removal of a patient’s entire lymph system. SLN mapping relies on a combination of radioactivity and organic dyes but the technique is inexact during surgery, often leading to removal of much more of the lymph system than necessary, causing unwanted trauma. The current work was performed on laboratory animals, including near-human sized pigs, considered by scientists to be a good predictor of human results.
The study reported that the new imaging system with near-infrared quantum dots was a significant improvement over the dye/radioactivity method currently used to perform SLN for several reasons, including:
Founded in 1998, Quantum Dot Corporation and its advisors are the world's leading experts in semiconductor nanocrystal (Qdot™) technology and its application in biology. QDC markets and sells Qdot nanocrystal products worldwide, directly and through distributors. QDC has a dominant and extensive patent position covering quantum dot compositions, synthesis methods, and methods of use. QDC is the exclusive licensee of quantum dot technology, in the field of biological applications, of pioneering intellectual property licensed from the University of California, MIT, Indiana University, and the University of Melbourne.
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