ATLANTA (March 18, 2013) - In an article published this week in the journal Drug Delivery and Translational Medicine, researchers from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology have reported the development of a technique that assists in identifying tumors from normal brain tissue during surgery by staining tumor cells blue. This key finding, developed by a team led by Dr. Barun Brahma, M.D., Children's neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, and Prof. Ravi Bellamkonda, the Carol Ann and David D. Flanagan Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, could be a critical technique used in hospitals lacking sophisticated equipment like an MRI, which guides in tumor removal, in preserving the maximum amount of normal tissue and brain function during surgery.
The project began when Children's Dr. Brahma approached the Georgia Tech-based laboratory of Prof. Bellamkonda and wondered if there was a way to manually distinguish a tumor from normal tissue during surgery without using complex equipment that might be unavailable to some health facilities. Prof. Bellamkonda’s lab developed a nanocarrier made out of fat that carried a clinically approved dye called Evans Blue. The team demonstrated that these nanocarriers leak out of blood vessels in the tumor margin and stain brain tumors blue. Using tumor cells injected into a rat brain, the team proved that injecting the blue-stained nanocarrers into the blood stream caused the nanocarriers to find their way to the brain tumor and selectively dye it blue while excluding normal brain tissue.
The finding is significant for hospitals worldwide that lack machines to help guide tumor removal, such as an intraoperative MRI machine. This new technique has the potential to help neurosurgeons remove brain tumors in children more accurately all over the world.
Dr. Brahma, Prof. Bellamkonda and other collaborators are developing a range of nanotechnologies designed to treat brain tumors and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Other authors on the report include researchers from the Bellamkonda lab and Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Phil Santangelo, an optical imaging expert at Georgia Tech. This collaboration embodies the power and potential of the rapidly growing partnership between Children's and Georgia Tech.
This research effort is in collaboration with the Children's Neurosciences Center. This effort is part of the Emory+Children’s Pediatric Research Center led by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University, including partnerships with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse School of Medicine.
This research was funded by Ian’s Friends Foundation in Atlanta and the Georgia Cancer Coalition.
About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been 100 percent dedicated to kids for 100 years. A not-for-profit organization, Children’s is dedicated to making kids better today and healthier tomorrow. Our specialized care helps children get better faster and live healthier lives. Managing more than 870,000 patient visits annually at three hospitals and 25 neighborhood locations, Children’s is the largest healthcare provider for children in Georgia and one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country. Children’s offers access to more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs and is ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support since 1915, Children’s has impacted the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world.
About the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia.