Microscopy technique yields color maps of tumor margins

Nonlinear interferometric vibrational imaging (NIVI) is a novel microscopy technique that delivers easy-to-read, color-coded images of tissue that outline clear tumor boundaries, which could eliminate the wait for cancer biopsy results. The study in mouse models of breast cancer showed that the new technology was more than 99% accurate and delivered results in minutes, as reported by the journal Cancer Research in its December 1 issue.

The NIVI technology, developed by Stephen Boppart and colleagues from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois (Urbana, IL), is based on the concept that pathologic anomalies are associated with variations in the biochemical composition of cells, and that different molecules have distinctive vibrational energy states in their bonds. The rationale for use of NIVI imaging in oncology lies in the fact that cancer cells have a higher concentration of proteins, whereas healthy cells have a higher concentration of lipids.

NIVI uses two beams of light—one for a reference and the other to excite the tissue and isolate the signal. The resulting image analysis yields red for cancer and blue for healthy cells, allowing for a color map of the tumor margins.

In the current paper, the investigators showed that in a rat model of breast cancer, the technology could differentiate between cancer and normal tissue sections with greater than 99% confidence intervals and define cancer boundaries to ±100 µm with greater than 99% confidence interval using fresh, unstained tissue sections. Imaging results were available in less than five minutes.

The investigators are currently working to make the approach faster, the equipment more compact and even portable, with the ultimate goal of developing new light delivery systems, such as catheters, probes or needles that can test tissue in situ without the need to remove samples.

Source: Cancer Research

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Posted by Lee Mather

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