Two of L.A.'s most prestigious institutions come together, today, for some cutting-edge teamwork:
Cedars-Sinai is announcing that it has borrowed a special space camera from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to get a better look at patients' complex tumors. Hospital to the stars, indeed!
If you're one of 20 lucky adults to participate in the trial (only requisite: a need for open-skull tumor surgery), picture this:
Doctors could soon be peering at your cancer blob through a camera lens that once hunted down a supermassive black hole. Creepy, yes, but in the coolest most I Heart Huckabees way possible.
So what can the space camera do that your average hospital cam can't?
Because deadly, spindly tumors known as “gliomas” contain a certain chemical that emits ultraviolet light, NASA cameras used for capturing all things ultraviolet in outer space may be able to detect the tumors' edges more clearly — showing surgeons exactly where to cut.
Cedars-Sinai explains that…
… the tumors' far-reaching tentacles pose big challenges for neurosurgeons: Taking out too much normal brain tissue can have catastrophic consequences, but stopping short of total removal gives remaining cancer cells a head start on growing back. Delineating the margin where tumor cells end and healthy cells begin never has been easy, even with recent advances in medical imaging systems, said [Department of Neurosurgery chair Keith L. Black].
But the ultraviolet camera might be able to see below the surface, he said.
NASA (and JPL specifically, a wondrous place located up in the northeastern corner of L.A. County) recently outdid its own fleet of telescopes with a new lens that can detect light even further along the electromagnetic spectrum — all the way in the X-ray region. Last month, the lab launched the new technology into space via the NuSTAR satellite, which will be snapping photos of previously invisible light patterns within black holes.
So that old ultraviolet lens collecting dust in the JPL closet? Perfect for loaning to Cedars-Sinai, whose “glioma” tumors glow in the UV spectrum.
Ray Chu, neurosurgeon and study leader (who we're just going to go ahead and picture as McDreamy), says in the Cedars-Sinai presser:
“The ultraviolet imaging technique may provide a 'metabolic map' of tumors that could help us differentiate them from normal surrounding brain tissue, providing useful, real-time, intraoperative information.”
What could go wrong? Sign up at (310) 423-7900 if you're down to let a bunch of brain surgeons go trekking through your tumor like Lance Armstrongs in labcoats.