Target-locking Confocal Microscope System

Summary Eliminating tumors via a non-invasive target-locking technology

Markets/Needs Addressed: Many tumors occur in parts of the body that are difficult to locate and image dynamically (e.g., colon, stomach or lung tumors) because a patient’s breathing can causes the entire area to move several millimeters each second. These types of tumors are therefore inaccessible to non-invasive radiative methods, such as the gamma knife. Harvard’s PLuTARCTM technology, when integrated with a fast 3D imaging system such as MRI or CT scanning, can precisely locate in real-time the exact position of the tumor as it moves, which can then be targeted dynamically by existing radiation treatment methods. This opens up a whole new class of tumors to radiation therapy, which previously required invasive surgery.

Innovation and Advantages: Novel and fast way of locating and radiatively treating a tumor in patient’s body by real-time target-locking. The target locking is achieved by: 1) imaging the tumor and surrounding bright objects (e.g. high-contrast tissue or other markers) at high resolution; 2) switching to a higher-speed, lower-resolution mode to monitor in real-time the movement of tumor and its surroundings; and 3) in response to the updated positions, directing the radiation beam at the center of the moving tumor, either changing the beam's focal point or moving the patient. Current technologies focus only on a single bright spot, namely the tumor, which is smeared out during the slow imaging required to achieve high resolution; targeting the radiation treatment relies on guessing where the tumor will be, by assuming, for instance, that the patient breathes at a constant rate. When these assumptions are (often) not met, the radiative beam will miss the tumor and instead damage surrounding healthy tissue; this collateral damage has prevented widespread clinical applications of these single-spot methods. By contrast, Harvard's PLuTARCTM technology fully reconstructs the geometry of the tumor and its surroundings in real-time to target-lock tumors with far higher speed and precision. PLuTARCTM technology opens up non-invasive radiative methods, such as the gamma knife, to treating tumors that move, where previously only invasive surgery was available.

Intellectual Property Status: A patent application has been filed and is pending.


To see a demonstration on how the system works, please visit the following website:

Type of Offer: Licensing

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