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GLIOLAN (or 5-ALA) is a new drug that is used for the surgical treatment of malignant brain tumours: ‘glioblastoma multiforme'.

Malignant brain tumours have metastases in the normal brain tissue that spread beyond the visible boundaries of the tumour.


By injecting the substance 5-ALA (5-aminolevulinic acid), the malignant brain cells start to light up in pink under a very specific (blue-violet) exposure of the surgical microscope. Normal brain tissue continues to be displayed in blue (cf. picture) so that also the metastases become visible.

By combining this new technique with ‘conventional' neurosurgery techniques such as ultrasound imaging and wakeful surgery, the resection of the tumour can be made as wide as possible.

This reduces the risk of recurrence and increases the hope for a longer, tumour-free survival.

As from a practical point of view: the patient will drink 50 ml of water with 5-ALA in the operating theatre about 4 hours before being given a general anaesthetic. The product increases the sensitivity of skin and eyes to light, which is why the patient must be screened off for 24 hours.

Dr Lesage has been certified for administering Giolan.