Tiny new sensing transistors developed at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute are expected to revolutionise surgical treatment for cancer patients.
The new nanostructured silicon field-effect transistors provide superior detection of cancer cells hidden among healthy tissues and can be completed during an operation, reducing the need for further surgeries.
Associate Professor Benjamin Thierry from the University of South Australia explains that currently, “when a cancer patient is undergoing treatment, a surgeon has to wait relatively lengthy lead times, often up to a few days, to get results of lymph node samples from the pathologists to get a measure of the spread of the cancer.”
“The new technology has the potential to eliminate the lag time and to provide results within the time-frame of the surgery,” he said.
According to model studies, the technology proves so refined it could detect one tumour cell per lymph node, making it as much as a thousand times more sensitive than the most advanced technology clinically available to date.
“Perhaps even more significantly for cancer patients and their doctors, is that the whole analysis could be completed within an hour,” Professor Thierry said. “Using a streamlined protocol we can cut that to within 30 minutes and still provide the required sensitivity,” he added.
Professor Thierry estimates that reliable intraoperative testing during surgery could spare up to 40 per cent of breast cancer patients a secondary surgery.
“Not only is the technology extremely reliable and efficient, it will also help to spare some of the trauma associated with cancer treatment, eliminating the need for multiple operations and giving doctors more confidence to make informed decisions during surgery,” he concluded.
Read more here: The University of South Australia.