Bright Idea: Making the Case for 'Tumor Paint'

Blaze Bioscience's brilliant concept in the fight against cancer.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

A neurosurgeon stands over a 12-year-old cancer patient in the operating room, scalpel in hand. It is unclear exactly which cells in the child’s brain are part of a cancerous tumor and which are healthy. Does the surgeon choose to remove all suspicious tissue or play it safe by removing less?

With Dr. James Olson’s Tumor Paint, surgeons can see cancerous tissue during the operation, sparing them from having to choose between going too far and not far enough. Olson’s solution consists of a fluorescent beacon attached to a peptide derived from scorpion toxin that latches onto cancer cells’ receptors. The technology is administered via injection, and surgeons use a near infrared camera to see the cancerous tissue in real time and at much higher resolution than MRI technology can provide.

Olson, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, developed and patented Tumor Paint at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in 2007. Time magazine that year called it “an innovative way of giving surgeons the upper hand against these wily tumors.”

In 2010, Heather Franklin, formerly senior vice president of business development and alliance management at ZymoGenetics, joined Olson in launching Blaze Bioscience to commercialize the technology, which the firm licensed from FHCRC last year. Franklin, who is president and CEO, lured former ZymoGenetics colleagues Julia Novak and Mila Lobanova, as VP/research and project management and VP/finance and operations, respectively, to the endeavor.

Blaze Bioscience recently raised $5 million in Series A financing to put Tumor Paint through further development. “This funding is a significant milestone,” Franklin says. “It will allow the company to transition from the seed stage to full execution mode.”

Olson, meanwhile, is happy to think of what it may mean to anyone facing treatment for solid cancer tumors. “We’re pleased to have raised the capital to move Tumor Paint forward,” he says, “and we remain inspired by the needs of the pediatric brain cancer patients for whom the technology was developed.”

Franklin says clinical trials could begin next year.

Sponsored

How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities

How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities

 
 

Sponsored by MacDonald-Miller

The Polyclinic Northgate wanted to do something that had never been done before — create a medical clinic that could be rearranged in a weekend, located in virtually any building, and most importantly, a place that would not cost a lot to change in the future. How could there be a flexible system with the constraints that sewer lines currently impose on existing facilities? The Polyclinic turned to its mechanical contractor, MacDonald-Miller, to come up with a solution.

We interviewed Steve Amann, project executive, to find out how vacuum plumbing systems will revolutionize the healthcare industry.  

What is the vacuum system solution?

Vacuum plumbing is a modular drainage system, which allows for immediate and future room reconfigurations. Rather than the standard protocol of requiring slab penetrations to accommodate gravity drainage, vacuum piping serving waste fixtures is installed in overhead spaces, delivering wastewater to a central vacuum center that exits the building at a single, convenient location. 

How will this flexible system change the healthcare industry?

The vacuum system is the first ever application of its kind in a medical clinic utilizing demountable, movable interior walls. Now medical clinic spaces can be remodeled at a fraction of the time and cost formerly required given standard plumbing and fixed walls. This efficiency provides new opportunities for business while maximizing revenue. Now, health care teams can drive project decisions, rather than decisions being made by the constraints of an existing space layout, or lack of plumbing infrastructure.

How will it change the landscape for healthcare facilities?

Medical clinics can now be located in nontraditional locations, such as standard office buildings with lower lease rates than designated-use medical office buildings.

What is the environment and financial impact?

The environmental impact of vacuum toilets is substantially less compared to standard low-flush toilets. With only half a gallon per flush, tenants realize big savings on their water and sewer costs. The system also prevents waste pipe leaks, which occur in gravity-driven systems and contribute to a deterioration of a building’s health over time.

With the ever-changing nature of the health care industry and mounting price pressure, the combination of demountable walls and vacuum plumbing creates flexibility and provides long-term economic benefits — two elements which are in high demand within this emerging industry. 

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is a full-service, design-build, mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about MacDonald-Miller’s recent projects.