"Successful surgical treatment of breast cancer crucially depends on accurate detection of the boundaries between malignant and healthy cells (tumor margins) and is a major determinant of patient survival. The current standard for assessment of margins is the evaluation by the surgeon in the operating room followed by histological sampling.
The project “smart BANdage for CANCER margin theranostics” (BAN-CANCER) combines diagnosis of malignancy at the single cell level over a large area with stimuli-responsive delivery of therapy in a theranostic device for intraoperative detection and eradication of malignant cells at breast tumor margins.
BAN-CANCER is a multidisciplinary project that combines the potential of nanoscale materials with a novel theranostic approach. It constitutes a leap forward with respect to current and proposed diagnostics, allowing to diagnose and treat breast carcinoma margin involvement for the first time (i) intraoperatively (ii) at the single cell level (iii) over the entire surgical incision; in a (iv) simple, (v) inexpensive,(vi) biocompatible package; that can be (vii) routinely employed by surgeons without requiring (viii) added equipment or (ix) prolonged analysis.
BAN-CANCER will consist of a vertical array of porous silicon nanoneedles sticking out from a flexible substrate over several square cm. The gauze will be applied over the margins of the remaining breast epithelium following tumor excision allowing the nanoneedles to penetrate within each cell. The needles will be functionalized to release a fluorescent chemotherapy drug in response of abnormal cytosolic protease activity to provide simultaneous imaging and eradication of cancer cells. When the gauze will be removed the surgeon will assess the extent of margin involvement and make an informed decision extending the excision. The intracellular release of chemotherapy will ensure the death of isolated, difficult to observe cancer cells, further preventing recurrence."
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