Lily Yang Co-PI on Grant to Develop New System for Breast Tumor Removal

September 2016

Lily Yang, MD, PhD, the Nancy Panoz Chair of Surgery and director of the Emory University Surgical Oncology Nanomedicine Research Lab, and Huabei Jiang, PhD, the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, have received a multiple Principle Investigator R01 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the NIH. The grant will fund their four-year project to develop and test a multimodal imaging system and targeted nanoprobes for image-guided treatment of breast cancer. Yang and Jiang's multidisciplinary team will include experts in imaging, microelectromechanical systems, probe synthesis, cancer biology, and surgical oncology from both Emory and the University of Florida.

The study is a response to chemotherapy being largely ineffective for over 60% of patients with triple negative breast cancer. Of those patients whose drug resistant residual tumors remain after pre-operative chemotherapy, approximately half will develop local and distant recurrent tumors within three years post-surgery with potentially fatal results. Yang and Jiang intend to address this critical problem by developing specific and sensitive image-guided surgery to completely remove small drug resistant tumor lesions and tumor cell involved lymph nodes at the initial procedure.

Jiang and his lab will build an intraoperative imaging device that will integrate photoacoustic tomography, a new type of biomedical imaging modality that uses laser pulses and ultrasonic signal detection, with fluorescence molecular tomography, which provides true 3D imaging.

"It is anticipated that the device will allow three-dimensional detection of tumors that are much smaller than we've ever been able to achieve before," says Yang.

Once the device's ability to determine the size and location of tumors is evaluated, Yang's lab will test the use of receptor targeted, near infrared, dye-labeled nanoparticles to guide the imaging probes into breast tumors that have been derived from cancerous tissues surgically removed from breast cancer patients and implanted in murine models.

"If all goes well, we should then be able to remove all of the tumors and reduce incidence of tumor local recurrence, the development of tumor metastasis, and ultimately, increase survival of breast cancer patients," Yang says.

Beyond image-guided surgery of breast cancer, Yang and Jiang expect that the technology will also be capable of endoscopic detection of esophageal, colon, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

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