Glioblastoma brain cancer

New imaging technology could lessen brain surgery risks

Photo of a brain surgery using the imaging needle from this study.
The "smart needle" in use during neurosurgery. Photo: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Australia

Researchers have developed a hair-thin needle with a tiny camera and a warning system to more safely navigate during brain surgery, according to a feasibility study published in Science Advances Wednesday.

Why it matters: Current use of MRI imaging to assist with brain needle surgeries does not have the resolution to detect small blood vessels, making the risk higher that the neurosurgeon could cause a brain bleed when conducting a biopsy. This new needle — tested successfully so far on 11 patients — shows up to 98% accuracy in detecting those blood vessels. Brain bleeds can cause complications, which can be fatal.

Immunotherapy shows early promise against brain cancers

Photo of MRI of skull of patient with a glioblastoma tumor
MRI of a patient with a glioblastoma tumor. Photo: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

An international team of scientists say they've developed a molecule that can target the two most common brain cancers, successfully slowing down tumor growth in a pre-clinical study on animals published in Nature Wednesday.

Why it matters: The targeted brain cancers — adults' glioblastoma and children's medulloblastoma — are aggressive cancers often fatal within 2 years (as seen when glioblastoma claimed the life of Sen. John McCain). This team hopes this new method, which successfully breaches the blood-brain barrier, may be an important step forward in finding an effective treatment.