The use of non-invasive imaging technologies like CT, MRI and PET has enabled cancer to be detected pre-operatively much earlier and the tumour can subsequently be removed using minimal-invasive techniques like endoscopy or laparoscopy or by open surgery. Currently, human surgery is still performed without real-time image guidance, that is, the surgeon is unable to ‘visualise’ the cancer within the patient’s tissues whilst operating. As a result, it is not possible to detect residual disease during surgery other than by visual appearance and palpation.
However, working in conjunction with Leiden University Medical Center and the Center of Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM) consortium partners, Percuros has made image-guided surgery a possibility whereby the surgeon is guided by light that emanates from the target. Though there has been much progress made in this area, issues of target-specificity, tissue heterogeneity and identification of a safety zone (the demarcation between healthy and tumour tissue) still remains. Percuros remains focused on developing fluorescent contrast agents that are target-specific.