University of Utah surgeon returns from Iraq to help start-up company fight cancer

Dr. James McGreevy will have little time to rest as he returns from his 8-week tour of duty in Iraq as a flight surgeon. He is co-founder and co-inventor of the technology behind Vestan--a medical imaging technology company that has recently been granted a Virtual Incubator Program Award (VIP Award) from the University of Utah's Technology Commercialization Office and the University of Utah Research Foundation. Upon his return from Iraq, Dr. McGreevy plans to resume his clinical duties at the University of Utah Hospital by February 1, 2006.

Vestan is a University of Utah spin-off company that has licensed technology from the U to empower surgeons with new imaging techniques and to aid in the visualization of tumors. The University of Utah Chemistry Department developed a series of fluorescent vitamin B12 molecules and imaging instrumentation that can be used to improve the outcome of surgical removal of cancerous tumors. After injection of the imaging drugs, the cancerous tissue glows brightly. Dr. McGreevy says this technology will help operating room surgeons identify where the cancerous tissue stops and where the healthy tissue starts. "I am hopeful that this new method of identifying malignant tissue in the operating room will be useful not only for breast cancer treatment, but eventually for cancers of the abdomen, as this technology is wonderfully adaptable to laparoscopic instrumentation that is already available in every operating room in the United States," said McGreevy.

Just one example of what this technology can do is in the treatment of breast cancer patients undergoing a lumpectomy. Approximately one million breast biopsies for suspected cancer are performed every year in the United States. Only 20% of those surgeries show that there is actual cancer in the breast, with the other 80% being benign tumors. An intraoperative marker for cancer would prevent the removal of normal tissue. If the biopsy shows cancer, surgeons must rely

Contact: Remi Barron
University of Utah

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