Colorado State University And Synaptive Medical Collaborate To Better Detect Brain Tumors

FORT COLLINS, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center and Synaptive Medical Inc. are collaborating to develop an intraoperative imaging and sensing technology to more accurately detect and treat brain tumors.

Dr. Rebecca Packer, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Colorado State University, is the first neurosurgeon in the world to use Synaptive’s Raman spectroscopy research system to explore clinical biomarkers that can assist in surgical resection of tumors. The system also improves the preservation of normal brain tissue.

Dr. Packer's research focuses on developing novel therapies for brain tumors while advancing precision medicine and innovation for humans and veterinary patients. Her ultimate goal? To develop accurate and less invasive neurosurgical techniques and therapies to treat brain tumors, in part by improving intraoperative imaging to more accurately detect and resect tumors during surgery. Intraoperative means occurring or performed during surgery.

CSU's veterinarians, clinicians and staff are firm believers in the One Health Initiative approach to cancer research, in which veterinary and human medicine share a common goal. This is also known as comparative oncology.

“There are many similarities between canine and human brain tumors," said Dr. Packer. "As such, knowledge gained from clinical trials in our veterinary brain tumor patients may also help advance therapies for humans.”

Synaptive Medical is undertaking collaborative efforts to interconnect and optimize the secure flow of imaging and non-imaging data while integrating it into existing surgical technologies. “Novel sensing technologies would support a surgeon when she is performing a procedure and when rapid clinical decisions need to be made,” said Cameron Piron, Synaptive’s president and co-founder. “The Flint Animal Cancer Center is among the best in the world for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pet animals, and this is a natural collaboration for us to advance both veterinary and human neurosurgery.”

The incidence of a recurrent brain tumor in humans remains high and researchers believe it could be minimized with greater levels of resection. Some brain tumors are so visually like normal brain tissue that differentiation is challenging, particularly when removing adjacent healthy tissue could compromise brain function.

“Surgeons tell us they would rather leave a residual tumor because the risk of neurological deficit outweighs the benefit,” said Piron. “Improving the accuracy of surgical intervention is critical.”

Through a generous donation from the Eldred Foundation, the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is the first to acquire Synaptive’s research system. Raman spectroscopy is a rapid and powerful imaging technique that has been extensively used in other scientific disciplines to understand the chemical composition of tissue. Currently, no hand-held system can rapidly detect tumor tissue. CSU’s initial research goal is to confirm the specific spectral “fingerprint” of the various brain tumor types, and match that fingerprint with the microscopic appearance of the tumor and surrounding normal tissue.

“We expect that, ultimately, this technology will make the surgical resection of brain tumors safer and more accurate, but given the advancements in tumor vaccines and immunotherapies, it is reasonable to speculate that one day a device might even allow us to obtain a diagnosis and determine optimal patient-specific treatments without the need for invasive surgery,” said Dr. Packer.

Synaptive Medical’s current surgical solution, BrightMatter™, supports a patient-centric, scalable model that is automated for surgical planning and intervention with visualization of a patient’s unique fiber tracts, state-of-the-art optics for workflow efficiencies and recent FDA-cleared health informatics.

“We aim to accelerate value-based care by providing more precise information to surgeons during surgical procedures, giving them more real-time information with which to make the best possible decisions for their patients,” said Piron.

Learn more about brain tumors in pets and Dr. Packer's work and research.

About Colorado State University:
Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, CSU is now among the nation's leading research universities. Located in Fort Collins, CSU currently enrolls more than 33,000 students, and has more than 1,800 faculty members working in eight colleges.

CSU is recognized as a premier research institution and routinely ranks as one of the top American universities without a medical school in research expenditures. In Fiscal Year 2016, CSU research expenditures totaled $332 million; this was the ninth consecutive year research expenditures at the university have topped $300 million. More information is available at

About the Flint Animal Cancer Center | The Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center is a preeminent cancer center for animals, and offers the latest in diagnostics and treatment for all kinds of cancer in companion animals including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

About Synaptive Medical | Synaptive Medical Inc., a Toronto-based medical device and technology company, collaborates with leading clinicians and healthcare systems to revolutionize products and services that cross traditional barriers to enable continuous improvement in care delivery in and beyond the operating room. Synaptive’s integrated BrightMatter™ solutions — including surgical planning, navigation and visualization, and an informatics platform — are designed to give clinicians the right information they need to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

Media Contact:
Synaptive Medical Inc.
Elizabeth Monier-Williams, 647-925-3435 x 169
Director, Marketing Communications

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