The novel intraoperative probe SentiMag is expected to improve the prognosis of breast cancer by early detection of cancer cell spread. The SentiMag is co- developed by University of Houston (UH) physicist, Audrius Brazdeikis (an associate professor of physics at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics) along with his colleagues at University College of London (UCL). The SentiMag allows physicians to locate and screen sentinel nodes with its associated advanced magnetic sensors and Sienna+ tracer nanotechnology.
Potential advantages of SentiMag over traditional diagnostic modalities for breast cancer:
Current identification and diagnosis of breast cancer metastasis revolves around the injection of radioactive isotopes hours before a procedure and use of a gamma probe to detect the flow of radioactive isotopes. However, the SentiMag has totally replaced the use of radiotracers with magnets and magnetic nanoparticle tracers.
SentiMag detects the first lymph node that drains cancer directly and thereby easily tracks early metastasis by the advanced nanotechnology and powerful magnetic sensors. The technology helps in the early identification and lesser need of invasive or radiation diagnostic modalities. Moreover, instead of waiting for hours after the administration of a tracer, the SentiMag requires only 30 minutes preparation time before starting the detection procedure. As opposed to the radioactive tracer, the shelf life of magnetic tracers lasts for months. Lastly, with no regulatory restrictions (since magnetic tracers have no safety and handling issues), the cost of therapy is much lower when compared to radioactive isotopes.
Audrius Brazdeikis, the head of Biomedical Imaging Group at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (TcSUH) commented:
“The most rewarding aspect in this adventure has been taking our original idea and seeing it through to market introduction. The biggest challenge wasn’t the technology or research or science, but actually developing collaborations across the science and business interface to make this commercialization happen.”
Brazdeikis developed the systems engineering with Simon Hattersley from UCL and electromagnetic components with physics professor Quentin Pankhurst.
SentiMag has been in use for over a year in Europe and has been distributed to other parts of the world. Currently, SentiMag is in active use in 8 European Union countries, including Germany, UK, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and France. Recently, Sysmex has been granted the right to sell and support SentiMag in Middle Eastern and African countries. The worldwide distribution of the device is attributed to the UH based company Endomagnetics Ltd., and international biotechnology company Sysmex Europe GmbH. Audrius Brazdeikis is hopeful that the device will soon get U.S. approval as well.