Diagnostic imaging, oncology  

New partnerships to trial optical coherence tomography for cancer identification

7 March 2007

Two UK hospitals have teamed up with Michelson Diagnostics Ltd (MDL) to test the use of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) for the rapid identification of cancers as an alternative to biopsies.

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and University College London Hospital (UCLH) are to trial MDL’s Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scanner for research into rapid in-vivo identification of cancers affecting the cervix, oesophagus, skin, lung and other organs.

The new OCT scanner shows tissue structure in real time below the surface of a scanned organ. OCT makes this possible at far higher resolution than is possible with ultrasound or MRI scans.

At Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Dr Nick Stone, Consultant Clinical Scientist in Biophotonics Research, will use the scanner to look at cervical and oesophageal tumour tissue.

“My team want to assess how useful OCT imaging could be in helping clinicians to diagnose, monitor and target the treatment of cancer,” said Dr Stone. “The next step will be to repeat the tests in-vivo. We believe the NHS could reduce costs and waiting times with the clinical implementation of OCT, both for biopsy targeting and real-time diagnostics”.

Mr Colin Hopper, Head of Maxillofacial Surgery at UCLH, is keen to obtain in-vivo images of basal-cell skin carcinomas with the Michelson Diagnostics system.

“We are very excited about the breakthrough in image quality that this system offers,” Dr Hopper said. “OCT could revolutionise the surveillance of pre-cancers in the mouth by eliminating waiting for biopsy results and by minimising surgery for cancer through improved disease mapping, all while maximising cure rates.”

The research programmes are due to start in late March 2007. They will last at least four months and will compare OCT scans taken with the Michelson Diagnostics equipment with histology from the same tissue samples from a sizeable range of patients.

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