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Scientists at Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Russia developed a unique drug for diagnosing cancer with the help of a research nuclear reactor. The breakthrough drug will help to precisely find the source of metastasis and prevent unnecessary surgeries.
Isotopes in the medication help to detect lymph nodes, which spread cancer to the rest of the body. This information will allow physicians to more accurately prescribe treatment: there will be no need to cut out the whole organ or its bigger part, but only the exact place where the metastasis is located.
"The drug is really phenomenal, designed for the first time in medical practice," Oleg Dolmatov, director of the Institute of Physics and Technology in the TPU told Izvestia. "We began the development a few years ago, in cooperation with the Tomsk Scientific Research Institute of Oncology, which will begin testing the drug in September.
"The product is crucial for the later stages of the disease, when the tumor has already formed, and the disease begins to spread through the body. That's when we need to make a decision about the treatment: to accomplish a surgery without cutting out healthy tissues, or even apply a different method of treatment," Dolmatov explained.
The radiopharmaceutical designed by Tomsk scientists is intended for the detection of "sentinel" lymph nodes (SLN). Such nodes are to be blamed for lymphogenous metastasis — lymph drainage from a tumor to the body. Moreover, they are difficult to find: typically, there are large numbers of nodes around the tumor, and only 1 or 2 of them spread the disease. The new drug injected intravenously accumulates only in the SLN. Radioactive elements of the medication help to x-ray "bad" nodes.
The drug will be first presented to the scientific community on September 6 at the International Forum of Resource Efficiency in Tomsk. The product will soon undergo pre-clinical trials.
Launched in 1967 and recently fully modernized, the nuclear reactor in the TPU is the only active scientific research reactor in Russia.
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