Penn Medicine receives $9 million for tumor-illuminating technology to improve lung cancer surgery outcomes.

Penn Medicine has received a $9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to advance their work with a special technology that helps surgeons see and remove lung tumors more effectively. This technology, called intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI), uses glowing molecules that attach to cancer cells, making them stand out from healthy tissue during surgery. This is a big deal because lung cancer is the most common type of cancer caused by smoking, affecting over 200,000 people in the U.S. each year.

Dr. Sunil Singhal, a leading doctor at Penn Medicine, has been a key figure in developing this imaging technology. His team has already shown that IMI can help surgeons take out tumors more accurately while keeping healthy tissue safe. The technology works by injecting special molecules into the patient before surgery, which then stick to the cancer cells and light up under a special camera. This not only helps during surgery but can also help doctors spot tumors during lung exams with a scope.

With the new funding, researchers at Penn Medicine and other universities will work on creating even better glowing molecules and cameras to see them with. This includes collaborating with experts like Dr. Philip Low, who will design new molecules, and Dr. Shuming Nie and Dr. Viktor Gruev, who will work on improving the cameras. The goal is to make surgeries more successful by completely removing the cancer without taking out too much healthy tissue. Dr. Ronald DeMatteo from Penn Medicine emphasizes that avoiding unnecessary tissue removal is key for the best patient outcomes.

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