''As part of the Center for Children's Brain Tumors, we've been working with Packard colleagues to better design these pocket-size microscopes for guiding surgical resection. Stanford is a tremendous environment for this type of interactive activity.''
- Christopher Contag, PhD
Collaborations hold hope for new therapies
A handheld microscope no larger than a ballpoint pen holds the promise of a normal lifespan for children afflicted with deadly brain tumors. That’s the hope of Christopher Contag, PhD, a Stanford investigator whose research targets medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.
Contag is one of a dedicated group of scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine who are waging an ongoing battle against childhood cancer. These scientists have a unique advantage: their location at the intersection of a top-ranked medical school, an outstanding children's hospital, and a powerhouse research university. Their collaborative efforts show exciting potential for translating promising research into new therapies.
''We're building our handheld microscope with the electrical engineering department, and we're developing new probes for detecting medulloblastoma with the chemistry department,'' says Contag, associate professor of pediatrics, microbiology & immunology, and radiology.
Contag's approach against medulloblastoma is to create a better image of the tumor's boundaries, which would improve a surgeon's ability to completely remove the tumor and boost survival rates. Researchers in his lab would use tiny probes to stain the tumors with a cancer-specific dye, and then employ the pen-sized imaging device to peer into the brain, detect the fluorescent signals, and remove only the colored tumor cells.
Contag's eagerness for collaboration reflects a campus-wide commitment to crossing and blending disciplines in order to reach common goals.