Helping surgeons visualise tumour cells in living colour.


  • Image-guided surgery is a novel multidisciplinary technique that improves tumour diagnostics and increases the success of surgical cancer treatment.
  • This technique can be used in classic ‘open’ surgeries, minimally invasive surgeries, and diagnostic procedures.
  • A fluorescent label is attached to a molecule (e.g. a monoclonal antibody) that binds specifically and selectively to tumour cells, making the primary tumour and metastases visible to the surgeon.
  • CHDR collaborates with mathematicians to develop new applications for this powerful new tool.
  • The fluorescent label itself is not pharmacologically active; however, it can be extremely useful for optimising the dosage and timing of pharmacological compounds.


Developed by surgeons, biomathematicians, and researchers, image-guided surgery uses fluorescent markers to help the surgical oncologists ‘see’ the tumour in real time. This innovative, powerful technique significantly increases the outcome of tumour-resection surgery.

The Image-guided Surgery Team

The Image-Guided Surgery (IGS) team is a unique collaboration between CHDR, Leiden University, and the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). Working together, the team develops powerful image-guided approaches for use in surgery, diagnostics, and other clinical applications. The combined effort of surgical oncologists and CHDR’s world-class drug-development group opens exciting new opportunities, bringing important medical breakthroughs to the clinic.

See more on the Image-Guided Surgery website.

Practical answers to important research questions

  • What is the optimal dose for administering the labelled molecule in order to accurately visualise the tumour against background (i.e. healthy) tissue?

    Using pharmacological measurements, CHDR can establish the optimal conditions for visualising tumour cells, metastases, and positive lymph nodes, thereby minimising false-negative signals (which would result in the incomplete removal of tumour cells) and false-positive signals (which would result in the removal of healthy tissue).

  • What is the optimal timing for administering and tracking the fluorescent label?

    After administration, the label must reach the tumour. Initially, healthy tissue may also absorb the label, temporarily becoming fluorescent. Depending on a variety of conditions, however, the label will be cleared from healthy tissue but will remain in the tumour cells, providing a window of time during which only tumour cells are fluorescent. CHDR uses sophisticated modelling techniques to determine the ideal timing between administering the label and performing the medical procedure.

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