Scientific Update - Development of a Fluorescence-Based Probe to Facilitate Cholangiocarcinoma Resection and Diagnosis

Kelly Butler

Some early-stage cholangiocarcinomas can be surgically removed, but detecting microscopic cancer cells remains a significant challenge. Even just a few remaining cancer cells may proliferate, evade the immune response, and cause disease recurrence after surgery.

Thus, a recent study aimed to develop a rapid fluorescence-based imaging technique that could eventually help surgeons identify and remove all cancerous tissue. To begin, the authors screened ~800 enzyme-activated fluorescent probes and identified PM-2MeSiR as specifically active in extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

Providing mechanistic insight, the authors found that the enzyme puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase activates the PM-2MeSiR fluorescent probe. Accordingly, this enzyme was found to be overexpressed in extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma compared to normal tissue.

In addition to being useful during surgery, the fluorescent probe could potentially be employed for diagnostic purposes. However, further research is needed to test whether the probes can distinguish cholangiocarcinoma from other tumor types, such as hepatocellular carcinoma. While still in its early stages, this fluorescent probe research is highly promising and could help pave the road toward more precise diagnosis, improved surgical resection, and better clinical outcomes.

Reference: Ishizawaa, R. T. T., Tanakac, Y. I. M., Fujitae, A. O. Y. K. K., Kamiyae, M., Uranod, T. U. Y., & Hasegawaa, K. (2023). Real-Time Fluorescence Imaging to Identify Cholangiocarcinoma in the Extrahepatic Biliary Tree Using an Enzyme-Activatable Probe.

Kelly Butler

Kelly Butler is an NIH Postbac Research Fellow and the Founding Director of SAFE