Image-guided phototherapy to prevent ovarian cancer recurrence

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Tayyaba Hasan, PhD, and Akilan Palanisami, PhD, Mass General Hospital


The project aims to reduce the high rate of ovarian cancer (OvCa) recurrence and mortality by monitoring and selectively destroying residual, microscopic tumors using a “theranostic” platform that integrates fluorescence microendoscopy and near infrared phototherapy. Patients are presently subjected to a morbid treatment regimen consisting of surgical tumor debulking and high-dose-intensity chemotherapy. Here we propose a paradigm shift towards image-guided treatment of the microscopic residual disease following surgery with staggered tumor-targeted, activatable phototherapy and low dose chemotherapy on an as-needed basis. The targeted and activatable phototherapy synergizes with chemotherapy to enable enhanced treatment efficacy per cycle by reversing cancer cell drug-resistance. For instance, a single cycle of activatable phototherapy plus chemotherapy achieves 97% killing of disseminated micrometastases versus 3% for chemotherapy alone (PNAS 111, E933–42, 2014). This approach not only offers great promise to improve patient survival and quality of life but also has potential to relax the intensity of the conventional chemotherapy drug infusion schedule, which is often compromised by the need for dose interruptions due to toxicity, patient compliance and socioeconomic barriers to transportation for frequent hospital visits. This project aims to validate the next generation fluorescence microendoscope that enables real-time imaging and analysis for sensitive detection of micrometastases—a major step towards clinical translation of this platform for image-guided treatment of residual OvCa.

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