In operating rooms today, cancer surgeons are essentially forced to operate without any definitive way of determining whether or not 100% of the diseased tissue has been removed. Thanks to a radical invention by researchers in Massachusetts, that huge limitation could soon be a thing of the past. A new system, dubbed FLARE (Fluorescence-Assisted Resection and Exploration), involves a near-infrared (NIR) imaging system, a video monitor, and a computer. These tools are used to see special chemical dies (christened NIR fluorophores) that are crafted to "target specific structures such as cancer cells when injected into patients." When these dyes are exposed to NIR light, the cancer
cells light up, giving doctors an easy look at what they have left to remove. The team is gearing up to showcase the technology at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Philadelphia -- here's hoping it can be put to good use in the very near future.