Nigerian-born scientist, Samuel Achilefu, has been awarded the prestigious 2014 Louis Award for creating cancer-seeing glasses. This is according to premiumtimesng.com.
According to the report, Dr. Achilefu, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, and his team developed the imaging technology for cancer diagnosis into a wearable device. The device is intended to help surgeons view cancer cells while operating.
“They basically have to operate in the dark,” Bloomberg Businessweek quoted Dr. Achilefu as saying.
Dr. Achilefu and his team began work in 2012 after they received $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, according to the report. Before then, they had been working on a lean budget provided by the Department of Defence’s Breast Cancer Research Program. After it was developed, the team spent years testing the technology on mice, rats, and rabbits to confirm the efficacy of the goggles.
According to Bloomberg, the researchers’ technology requires two steps in order to work effectively: First, surgeons inject a tiny quantity of an infrared fluorescent marker into the patient’s bloodstream. The peptides contained in the marker enables it to locate cancer cells and buries itself inside.
After the tracer flows through a patient’s body and clears from non-cancerous tissue – which lasts about four hours – the operation would begin. By wearing the device, the doctor can inspect tumours under an infrared light that reacts with the dye, causing cancer cells to glow from within.
According to the report the device was first used on humans at the Washington University School of Medicine, in June 2015. Four patients suffering from breast cancer and over two dozen patients with melanoma or liver cancer have been operated on using the goggles since they were developed.
“Nobody would believe us until we showed that the goggles work,” Dr. Achilefu said in the report.
The report reveals that the Food and Drug Administration are still reviewing the wearable device and a related dye Dr. Achilefu and his co-researchers developed.
Dr. Achilefu says he intends to keep Washington University as the primary centre for clinical trials to evaluate the technology in patients.