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Jefferson and Delaware Research Team to Create 3D Touch-and-Feel Genetic Images of Cancer

A team of researchers from Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Delaware have received a grant from the Department of Defense to create a three-dimensional patient imaging system that will allow surgeons to view and touch selected organs and tissues prior to surgery.

The investigators will also design novel radiopharmaceuticals that will scan for gene activity of the disease and present the results in a realistic hologram-like display that can be touched and probed like genuine organs.

The two-year project is focused on the pancreas and pancreatic tumors, and has two aims: 1.) the molecular design of a single new imaging ligand for epidermal growth factor receptors, and 2.) the surgical simulation of human pancreatic cancer reconstructed from patient CT and PET scans.

Currently, the elements of surgery must be imagined by the surgeon from two-dimensional diagnostic images before an operation, according to Eric Wickstrom, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Three-dimensional holographic images will allow surgeons to see the lesion to be removed in the patient’s own anatomical environment and permit a “touch and feel” surgical strategy.

“This imaging system will provide a highly realistic environment in which to better understand an individual patient’s pathology, and to accurately plan and rehearse that patient’s operation,” said Wickstrom, the leader of the study. “This system will combine the 3D visual image with the sense of touch and permit surgeons to view, palpate and manipulate selected organs and tissues.”

“This state of the art procedure will significantly enhance our ability to evaluate new biomolecules for their eventual translation to improving surgical care of patients at Jefferson and beyond,” said Mathew Thakur, Ph.D., professor of Radiology and director of the Laboratories of Radiopharmaceutical Research and Molecular Imaging. Dr. Thakur is also part of the research team at Jefferson.

The Jefferson research team also includes Chang-Po Chen, Ph.D., from the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Devadhas Devakumar, Ph.D., from the department of Radiology; John Kairys, M.D., from the department of Surgery; and Martha Ankeny, M.Ed., director of Learning Resources. The Delaware team members include Karl Steiner, Ph.D., Kenneth Barner, Ph.D., and Rui Hu, all from the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Emily Shafer | Newswise Science News
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