Nerve damage plagues surgical outcomes, significantly affecting post-surgical quality of life. Surprisingly, no method exists to enhance direct nerve visualization in the operating room, and nerve detection is completed through a combination of palpation and visualization when possible. Fluorescence image-guided surgery offers a potential means of enhanced nerve identification and preservation, however a clinically approved nerve-specific contrast agent does not yet exist. Several classes of nerve-specific fluorophores have recently been demonstrated including the distyrylbenzenes (DSB), select oxazines (oxazine 4 perchlorate), and certain cyanines (3,3’-diethylthiatricarbocyanine iodine), which could provide intraoperative guidance. The nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy is a surgical procedure that could benefit from fluorescence image-guided nerve identification. Although the nerve-sparing surgical technique was developed over 30 years ago, nerve damage following radical prostatectomy is reported in some form in up to 60% of patients one to two years post-surgery. To facilitate clinical translation of fluorescence image guided surgery to the nerve sparing prostatectomy, a direct administration methodology was developed that allows selective nerve highlighting with a significantly lower fluorophore dose than systemic administration, where large animal studies have confirmed the technique’s translatability. Tissue penetration will be critical for clinical feasibility of the direct administration methodology and novel formulation strategies have been explored to enhance tissue penetration for identifying buried nerves. In addition, several biomolecular targets of Oxazine 4, a promising candidate for nerve-specific fluorophore development into a near-infrared (NIR) agent, have been identified, providing insight into the mechanism of nerve-specificity. Fluorophore development has made progress towards the goal of creating a NIR nerve-specific fluorophore and determining the structure-activity relationship responsible for nerve binding.
Connor W. Barth, Summer L. Gibbs, and Lei Wang, "Topical application of nerve-specific fluorophores for image-guided nerve sparing surgical procedures (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10478, Molecular-Guided Surgery: Molecules, Devices, and Applications IV, 104780J (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2018; Published: 14 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2290681.5751479162001.
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