Sensors for Lymph Node Staging

Many primary tumors spread via lymphatic drainage, therefore lymph node staging and localization of pathological lymph nodes remains a cornerstone in choosing the most appropriate intervention. Non-invasive methods such as ultrasonography, CT, PET to stage regional lymph nodes have not shown to be accurate. Sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) can also be mapped using MRI techniques, but this application does not allow probe guided surgery.

One of the successes of the first “UK-Texas Bioscience Collaboration Initiative” was the development of a proof-of-concept HTS SQUID-based device that detects very small concentrations of iron oxide based contrast agents used for MRI. For the purpose of SLN detection, the probe was configured to detect a commercially available, FDA-approved dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide. An initial clinical evaluation of the magnetometer was undertaken at the University College London Hospital. Ten patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer underwent sentinel node biopsy with Endorem® (Feridex I.V.), blue dye and radiocolloid injections. In some cases pre-operative MRI was performed as well as lymphoscintigraphy to compare the imaging capabilities of the different methods. In each of the 10 patients, the SLN biopsy procedure was successful, and a total of 19 sentinel nodes were retrieved using the prototype hand-held magnetometer.

Our group has recently built an improved HTS SQUID system (SentiMag-One) for magnetically guided surgery. The SQUID system is installed at the Guy’s Hospital in London and currently being used in a clinical trial of breast cancer run by our collaborator Michael Douek, MD.

The presence of metastases in regional lymph nodes is important not just in breast cancer but in a variety of cancers. Our current research focuses on multimodal imaging capability and developing ultra-sensitive specialized probes for both preoperative planning and intraoperative use, and magnetic histology applications.

For further information contact the project leader Prof. Audrius Brazdeikis

Clinical research

  • L. Johnson, Q.A. Pankhurst, A. Purushotham, A. Brazdeikis, and M. Douek, “Magnetic Sentinel Lymph Node Detection for Breast Cancer,” Cancer Research 70 (24), P1-01-23 (2010).
  • T. Joshi, Q. Pankhurst, S. Hattersley, A. Brazdeikis, M. Hall-Craggs, E. De Vita, A. Bainbridge, R. Sainsbury, A. Sharma and M. Douek, “Magnetic nanoparticles for detecting cancer spread”, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 106, pp. S129 (2007).
  • T. Joshi, Q. Pankhurst, S. Hattersley, A. Brazdeikis, M. Hall-Craggs, E. De Vita, A. Bainbridge, R. Sainsbury, A. Sharma and M. Douek, “Magnetic nanoparticles for detecting sentinel lymph nodes”, European Journal of Surgical Oncology (EJSO), 33 (9), 1135 (2007).
  • Media mentions

    • A hand-held magnetic probe made by physicists could find a place in cancer surgery, Top down bottom up: Opposites attract, Nature Nanotechnology 2, 15 (2007)
    • Probe Developed To Detect Spread Of Breast Cancer, Science Daily, March 7, 2007
    • Probe to detect spread of breast cancer co-developed by UH scientist, UH News Release, March 5, 2007
    • UH-UK Biomedical Researchers Design Ultrasensitive Magnetic Probe to Detect Spread of Breast Cancer, UH NSM News, February 13, 2007
    • Probe to Detect Spread of Breast Cancer Gets Distribution Boost, UH Events & News, April 9, 2013
    • SentiMag is featured on the UH Homepage and on the UH Division of Research website, View image, April 10-11, 2013
    • Probe to Detect Spread of Breast Cancer Gets Distribution Boost, UH Events & News, April 9, 2013
    • Device Detects Breast Cancer’s Spread, Texas Medical Center News, May 15, 2013
    • Company Co-Founded by UH Researcher Wins Nanomedicine Award, UH Events & News, Nov 14, 2013

    Technology transfer activities

    • 2009 – The SentiMag technology licensed to Endomagnetics Ltd.

    Our Collaborators
    Our external faculty collaborators: Michael Douek, MD (Department of Research Oncology, Kings College London, UK). Partnerships in pursuing novel biomedical solutions: Endomagnetics Ltd. (London, UK)

    Project Status
    This project is currently active

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