Skip to main content
Email Print Share

"Growth Light" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone.

Researchers have developed a way to enhance how brain tumors appear in MRI scans and during surgery, making the tumors easier for surgeons to identify and remove.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Tumor Elimination? Tumor Illumination.

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

You might want to say this isn't brain surgery but in this case, it is; at least a new method that may make brain surgery easier, less invasive and more effective. Scientists at Ohio State are getting "glowing" reviews on a particle they've developed that could have tumors "light up" for surgeons and be more clearly defined with an MRI scan.

The tumors they're looking at are lethal ones called glioblastomas. Very hard to see and remove by surgeons. The team is combining two tiny particles -- one magnetic, one fluorescent -- to create composite particles to be injected into the bloodstream. Not only will they show the tumor in an MRI with greater definition and contrast, under special light, to the surgeon the tumor will appear to glow a different color than surrounding healthy tissue. Remove say, all the green and you've removed the entire tumor.

The researchers have proven that this composite particle can be created, except that up to now they've been using fluorescent cadmium telluride particles which are quite toxic to animals and humans. Their new research involves trying to make carbon-based fluorescent particles. Same affect no toxicity.

Tumors that glow a different color -- lighting the way to what could be the future of brain surgery.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.