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Pittsburgh Neurosurgeons Explore Use of Drug that Illuminates Brain Tumor Cells To Guide Surgery
Date:2/18/2010

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Neurosurgeons at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) are exploring use of a drug that illuminates brain tumor cells to determine if the experimental visualization technique will enhance their ability to surgically excise tumors and improve patient survival.

AGH is one of just three medical centers in the country approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the efficacy of an oral fluorescent compound, called 5-aminoevulnic acid (ALA), in a clinical trial of patients diagnosed with a glioma, the most common form of primary brain tumor.

Gliomas strike an estimated 10-12 thousand people each year in the United States and vary in severity. High grade gliomas, such as glioblastoma multiforma, are rapidly progressive and fatal malignant tumors. Low grade gliomas are more treatable, but also pose a risk of becoming cancerous overtime.

Regardless of grade, however, removing as much of a glial tumor as possible is critical to the patient's outcome, said Matthew Quigley, MD, director of AGH's Division of Neurosurgical Oncology.

"The nature of gliomas is such that regardless of the extent of surgery, some tumor cells will remain in the brain.  Nevertheless, one of the few things we can do to improve somebody's survival from this disease is to perform as complete a tumor resection as possible.   We know that patients who have a clean post-operative MRI tend to live longer," said Dr. Quigley, who is the hospital's co-lead investigator in the study of ALA with Khaled Aziz, MD, Director of AGH's Center for Complex Skull Base Surgery.

According to Dr. Aziz, gliomas are particularly challenging to resect because the infiltrative nature of the malignant cells produces ind
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SOURCE Allegheny General Hospital
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