27.4.2022 | Finnish Medical Journal
Smart tissue monitor developed by Finnish researchers detects cancer tissues from surgical waste.
The device developed by Marginum is primarily designed for glioma surgery but fits equally to other areas of oncological surgery.
The development of the device is rooted in basic research at the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital and the Eastern Finland Microsurgery Center.
The use of fluorescent biomarkers improves the identification of glioma cells during surgery. The fluorescent substance marks the active cancerous tissue, and the surgeon recognises the tissue’s fluorescent glow. The fluorescence locates to the infiltration zones of the tumour.
However, the contemporary method to visually analyse fluorescence has drawbacks. For example, the human eye does not always successfully distinguish the glow.
“There may be tissue debris in the field of view of the surgical microscope when looking at the tissue to be removed. Fluorescence can also be so dim that the human eye cannot see it”, says Samu Lehtonen, CEO of Marginum and a young researcher in the field of neurosurgery.
These limitations were solved in Kuopio when the Marginum started to develop a more efficient tissue recognition technique for cancer surgery.
The smart tissue monitor also utilises fluorescence to identify the cancer tissue. Here’s how it works:
The surgeon removes tissue piece by piece with a suction device. The device is connected to a tube inside which the tissue flows in one direction.
The smart tissue monitor analyses the moving tissue from different angles and detects the emitting tissue fluorescence with sensitive and high-performance sensors and light sources.
The stand-alone device enables continuous monitoring with near real-time feedback. The decision to remove tissue is still up to the surgeon.
“This is the most accurate near-real-time method that can be achieved adjunct to tumor removal”, says Resident in Neurosurgery and Adjunct Professor Antti-Pekka Elomaa.
He has co-founded and managed the Eastern Finland Microsurgery Center, and also serves as the Chairman of the Board at Marginum Ltd.
If the cancer cells adjacent to the main body of the tumor are detected more accurately than at present, the complete removal of the tumour will be more successful during the first operation, reducing the need for reoperations.
The solution does not supersede existing methods but supports them.
Afterwards the prognostic benefit, i.e. whether the disease slows down and quality of life improves, becomes clear.
A prototype of the device is currently being manufactured in collaboration with an engineering company. The goal is to have it completed by autumn and to start research use by the end of the year.
The first product will be launched in three years.
The method has been tested with research equipment but the final product will be a small instrument.
The story of the smart cell monitor began as a collaboration between Samu Lehtonen and Antti-Pekka Elomaa on basic research relating to spectral imaging and fluorescent biomarkers at the Eastern Finland Microsurgery Center.
Lehtonen’s path from a medical doctoral dissertation collaboration to a start-up and clinical device research has been quite exceptional.
Marginum Ltd. serves as an example of an impact-driven innovation seeking a solution to a clinical problem and derived from basic research.
The grants and public subsidies received played an important role before the company was set up. An investment from a private equity fund has been made for further development of the smart tissue monitor. Patent application for the product is pending.
The original full article in Finnish can be read at hereFinnish Medical Journal.
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