The SENSEI® probe is being developed by Lightpoint Medical. They are a UK medical device company who are developing very small imaging and sensing tools in order to help detect cancer during surgery.
The main route for prostate cancer cells to spread is through the small glands, known as lymph nodes, which are part of the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that filter body fluids and help the body to remove toxins and waste.
It can be extremely difficult for a surgeon to detect if small amounts of prostate cancer have spread into the lymph nodes despite scans performed before surgery. As a result, surgeons often remove all of the lymph nodes near the prostate, in accordance with European Association of Urology (EAU) guidelines.
However, the removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis during prostate cancer surgery can lead to complications, including increased blood loss, dangerous blood clots (which can dislodge) and delayed recovery. For many patients these lymph nodes turn out to be cancer free meaning that they did not need to be removed in the first place.
The SENSEI® probe is designed to pinpoint those lymph nodes containing cancerous cells in real-time during surgery. This then allows the surgeon to remove only those lymph nodes that are affected by cancer and to leave unaffected lymph nodes undisturbed. Overall this reduces the risks of the surgery for patients.
A targeted prostate-cancer-specific drug carrying a harmless radioactive tracer is injected into the patient before surgery. The drug then accumulates in prostate cancer cells including those in any cancerous lymph nodes.
During surgery the SENSEI® probe is used to detect any (radioactive) signal from the drug. If the SENSEI® probe detects a signal from a lymph node the surgeon then knows that the lymph node is cancerous and needs removing. If the probe detects no signal from a lymph node the surgeon can then be confident that the lymph node is cancer free and does not need to be removed.
SENSEI® has a CE Mark in Europe meaning that the device is already approved for clinical use. Lightpoint Medical is now leading clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness of the SENSEI® probe in prostate cancer surgery.
Once these trials are complete the data will be submitted to regulators for the approval of the use of the SENSEI® probe in combination with the prostate-cancer-specific drug (99mTc-PSMA). If the trials are successful then the use of the SENSEI® probe, in conjunction with 99mTc-PSMA, can be made more widely available to prostate cancer patients who require surgery.
To learn more about the different stages of medical device development click here.
Lightpoint have another probe in development called Surface Probe. To find out more about it please click here.
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