Dr. Lieu said that while the standardized scores acted as an implicit control group, the lack of a true control group was a limitation in the study’s ability to assess the students’ progress. Whether the changes were a regression to the mean, a true catch-up, or an improvement that occurred just by virtue of taking the standardized tests, is unknown, she said.
Explore This IssueMay 2012
“We feel that further studies in older children and adolescents are needed in order to answer some of these questions,” she said. “Are there interventions that can improve the cognitive and language skills in children with UHL, such as the IEPs, and does UHL affect matriculation to higher education and occupational choices?”
Tumor Tissue Margin Clarity
Dr. Nguyen discussed a probe she and her team developed that can turn tumor tissue a bright fluorescent color.
In resection, it’s all about getting clear margins. “It’s not always clear,” Dr. Nguyen said. “We try our best but often we have to send the frozen specimen to the pathology lab and wait for the pathologist to tell us whether or not the margins are clear…. Wouldn’t it be better if we could see the difference with our own eyes, see the difference between what’s cancerous and what’s normal?”
The probe molecule includes two parts: one that acts as the “sticky” portion (a positively charged peptide) and one that is a kind of nonstick backing like that on a book of stamps. The two parts can be taken apart by enzymes made by tumors, Dr. Nguyen said. A fluorescent dye is attached to the sticky portion. Since only the tumor cells will cause the molecules to become sticky, they bind only to tumor tissue.
“The tumor now has the molecular scissors which can then cut these two pieces apart,” Dr. Nguyen said. “The nonstick backing floats away and the tumor labels itself.”
By using the probe in animal models, the team found there was a 90 percent improvement over standard surgery in the amount of residual tumor that remained, Dr. Nguyen said. When the team used the probe to detect metastatic lymph nodes in a study involving22 nodes in 10 animals, they found no false positives or false negatives.
She and her team have also produced a probe that can similarly light up nerves. “The ability to preserve the nerves is equally important as it is to remove the tumor,” she said. “With the injectable probe, now the tumor’s boundaries are really clear.”