Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a new material that could help surgeons to locate breast cancers, reducing the need for second surgeries.
The gas-filled spheres of silica – known as microbubbles – measure just 2µ in diameter.
The microbubbles are injected into abnormal tissue prior to surgery and cling to early-stage tumours. Ultrasound scans are then used to locate their position, which allows the surgeon to remove the cancerous tissue precisely.
Animal trials of the marker are in progress, and the researchers hope to begin human trials after toxicology studies.