A team of researchers in Germany has developed a device that can be implanted near a tumor to monitor its growth, reports Technology Review's Kate Baggott. The implant — called the Intelligent Implant for Tumor Monitoring, or IntelliTum — uses sensors to measure oxygen and pH levels in the blood, which can indicate whether a tumor is growing or not. The data is sent to an external receiver that the patient carries and can then be sent to the doctor for analysis, Baggott says. The original idea was to monitor, and possibly treat, slow-growing tumors such as those in the brain and liver that are hard to operate on, the researchers tell Baggott. The advantage over external monitoring modalities like CT scans or MRIs is that IntelliTum is constantly on, and patients would have to make fewer visits to hospitals for testing. In addition, Baggott says, the team plans to incorporate a medication pump into the device, which could automatically deliver chemotherapeutic agents to the tumor site if the sensor detects growth. The research is still in its infancy — the team so far has only tested it on cultured tissue in the lab. But the team will start testing in live animals soon, Baggott adds.
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Sep 15, 2011