Prostate cancer diagnosed from tissue sample in 90 seconds
14 November 2014
The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and
Systems (IKTS) in Dresden has developed a device that can
identify cancerous prostate tissue from a biopsy within one and a
half minutes by using laser stimulated fluorescence.
Since the sample does not require a long preparation time and can
be pushed directly into the device and analyzed directly after it
has been taken, the patient does not have to wait for days after the
biopsy in order to know the outcome. The doctor receives the results
immediately and can talk with the patient much sooner about the next
steps to take.
Dr Jörg Opitz, scientist at IKTS, describes the process, "The
physician places the removed tissue sample on a base plate, slides
it into the machine, presses a button — and within one and a half
minutes, receives a reliable indication of whether the tissue in the
sample is benign or malignant."
In the current procedure to determine if the change in the
prostate is benign or due to a carcinoma, a sample of prostate
tissue is taken from the patient by inserting a small needle into
the prostate, using ultrasound images to assist with navigation.
From this sample laboratory staff fabricate wafer-thin tissue
sections — a laborious job that takes at least a day. Then the
tissue sections are forwarded to a pathologist, who examines them
under the microscope. Even for experienced pathologists it is often
difficult to distinguish between benign and malignant tissue.
The prototype diagnostic device determines
prostate tissue sample is benign or malignant.
Source: Fraunhofer IKTS
Light stimulates the body’s own fluorescence
A further advantage of the new device is the reliability of the
examinations. The analyses are based on autofluorescence of human
tissue. There are 'fluorophore' molecules in every human body that
re-emit light when a certain type of light falls on them.
In the device, a laser pulse is used to excite the fluorophore
molecules in the tissue sample. The way in which this fluorescence
radiation decreases differs between benign and malignant tissue and
the scientists at IKTS have been able to determine a clear threshold
for this different behaviour. Thus, the device can quickly detect if
the collected sample contains cancerous tissue.
Each tissue type has a fixed but unique value, so prostate tissue
has a different value from other tissue. Currently, the device can
only be used for prostate cancer, since the unit is only calibrated
for this tissue.
The researchers’ goal is to determine the threshold values for
other tissue types and to integrate them into the analysis software
of the device. Then, to identify cancer the operator would only need
to enter the appropriate tissue type from a drop-down menu.
The diagnostic device has already completed its first two
clinical studies, and the third study is currently underway.