On June 1, 2021 dr Kim Smita de Valk successfully defended her PhD thesis ‘Fluorescence imaging during abdominal surgery - Real-time imaging of ureters and malignancies’ at Leiden University.
Fluorescence guided surgery is a technique that has widely been implemented and investigated over the last decade, and has repetitively revealed to be a vital tool during surgery. It is an ideal tool to assist surgeons in delineating cancerous tissue and detect vital structures in real-time, to help improve oncological surgical outcomes and the preservation of vital structures. However, the process of adopting this technique into standard of care along with developing and translating novel fluorescent agents into the clinic has proven to take time. Preclinical studies that have been validated several years ago have now slowly been making the transition into the surgical field to be appraised in patients. For her thesis, Kim mainly focused on the clinical translation of ZW800-1 and cRGDZW800-1, which were developed for the intraoperative imaging of the ureters and colon cancer, respectively. Furthermore, she focused on the further appraisal of a previously studied tumor-targeted fluorescent antibody (SGM101) for the intraoperative imaging of primary, recurrent and metastasized colorectal cancer. Read her thesis here.
For this research and thesis, a unique collaboration was set up between the academic hospital Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and CHDR, to ensure an optimal roadmap for the clinical translation of fluorescent agents. Kim was supervised by promotor Prof. dr. J. Burggraaf, CEO CHDR, and co-promotor Dr. A.L. Vahrmeijer, head of the Image-Guided Surgery group at LUMC.