Brain tumors are the second-most common form of cancer that affects children, and the number one cancer-related cause of death of children.

At Seattle Children's Hospital, we use nanotechnology to study the molecules (small biological particles) that we can deliver to brain tumors to successfully diagnose and treat this difficult cancer.

Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen and his colleagues at University of Washington Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are studying ways to improve brain-imaging techniques with an emphasis on more clearly distinguishing normal brain tissue from abnormal tumor tissue. These resulting images will help neurosurgeons operate on the brain more safely.

Currently, almost 50% of all brain tumors, mostly the benign ones, may be cured through surgery. Improving imaging techniques enables surgeons to remove abnormal or diseased tumor tissue more thoroughly, while reducing damage to healthy brain cells.

Improved brain imaging may also lead the way for oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) to deliver cancer-fighting therapies directly to brain tumors, preserving healthy brain tissue and more effectively destroying tumors.