Israeli scientists have accidentally discovered a new way to predict the likelihood of cancer patients developing potentially life-threatening secondary tumors.
One of the biggest worries of cancer patients is that after the removal of their primary tumor, secondary tumors will develop. Such secondary growths — known as metastasis — are responsible for 90 percent of cancer-related deaths, but it normally takes time after surgery until a pathology report gives patients an idea of their risk level.
Prof. Daphne Weihs told The Times of Israel her biomedical engineering lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has discovered how to use a special gel to give an instant assessment of how likely a patient is to develop a secondary tumor.
“Our method is more rapid, accurate and quantitative than pathology results,” she said.
Weihs said her method will prove “life-saving,” as accurate information is key to ensuring that patients are monitored correctly for their risk level, so that new secondary tumors are picked up early or prevented before they have a chance to develop. She claimed her innovation cuts down the chances of patients being told they are safe from secondary tumors when they aren’t, compared to pathology reports.
Weihs said that “like all the best science” the method was discovered unintentionally when her lab prepared a polymeric gel and placed cancer cells on it for general observation. “We made it to study interactions of aggressive cells with their environment and ran into an unexpected phenomenon.”
Read More: Times of Israel