Burgess L, Chen J, Wolter NE, Wilson BC & Zheng G
Biomedical Optics Express, 2016

Each year almost 300,000 individuals worldwide are diagnosed with oral cancer, more than 90% of these being oral carcinoma [N. Engl. J. Med. 328, 184 1993]. Surgical resection is the standard of care, but accurate delineation of the tumor boundaries is challenging, resulting in either underresection with risk of local recurrence or over-resection with increased functional loss and negative impact on quality of life. This study evaluates, in two pre-clinical in vivo tumor models, the potential of fluorescenceguided resection using molecular beacons activated by metalloproteinases, which are frequently upregulated in human oral cancer. In both models there was rapid (<15 min) beacon activation upon local application, allowing clear fluoresecence imaging in vivo and confirmed by ex vivo fluorescence microscopy and HPLC, with minimal activation in normal oral tissues. Although the tissue penetration was limited using topical application, these findings support further development of this approach towards translation to first-in-human trials.

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