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New Real-Time Imaging Technique To Be Used In Cancer

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New Real-Time Imaging Technique To Be Used In Cancer

Assistant Professor Chao Zhou says that there is a possible improvement to modern-day imaging technology used for the detection of malignant tumors. This new method combines two already available technologies: confocal microscopy and optical coherence tomography (also known as OCT).

“As many as 40 percent of breast cancer patients now have to undergo a second surgery, because part of the tumor is left behind during the first” said Chao Zhou, while also adding that combining the two methods will allow a better localization of the tumor and will give surgeons the possibility to entirely remove the tumor through the first surgery.

The main advantage of this new approach is that the tissue can now be examined without causing any damage. The current method of examining cancerous tissue is to section it, stain it and then examine it under a microscope. This method is currently known as histopathology. The new technique could also give information on embryonic forms of cancer.

Optical coherence tomography allows the 3D imaging of the tissue through the recognition and analysis of the light patterns created by the internal organs. The confocal microscopy technique creates very high-resolution images but is not able to penetrate the tissues as deep as the optical coherence tomography. The combination of the two, known as the optical coherence microscopy (OCM), is able to create in-depth high-resolution imaging.

Optical Coherence Microscopy

Optical Coherence Microscopy

Professor Zhou says that his goal is to provide a real-time imaging technique capable of providing images of the microstructures found in the tissues at resolutions that are close to the ones used in histopathology at the moment. Zhou is also a pioneer in the use of optical coherence tomography in detecting cancerous tissue.

According to Zhou, the current imaging techniques do not provide an instant result, whilst OCT is capable of providing real-time images. Using a combination of the two methods,  optical coherence tomography and optical coherence microscopy, Zhou is able to alternate the high and low resolutions. Through this method he has managed to identify groups of cancerous cells without damaging or removing the tissue.

Professor Zhou also added that he is currently using OCT and OCM to study the development of an embryo or an animal. The method allows studying the development without having to sacrifice the particular embryo or animal. Another use of OCT could be the imaging of the systolic and diastolic rhythm of an embryonic heart. This would allow real-time examination, thus allowing the imaging of the heart rhythm, otherwise impossible to image in a dead heart.