EDITOR'S COLUMN: Talk about bio-optics' benefits

In talking about the work described in this issue's article on optical coherence tomography (OCT) for oncology (see p. 38), Brett Bouma notes the importance of collaboration between partners—some of whom contributed technical expertise, and others with expertise in the particular application area: tumor biology. "Without the technical capabilities of Dr. Vakoc and myself and the deep knowledge of tumor biology and unique expertise with small animal tumor models in the lab of Professors Jain and Fukumura, this work would not have been possible," Bouma explains.

This kind of collaboration will surely be helpful as Bouma and his colleagues work to broaden access to OCT technology: The Center for Biomedical OCT Research and Translation (CBORT) associated with Mass General Hospital/Harvard recently received an NIH grant to help biologists and medical scientists gain access to the imaging capabilities that the Center developed for cancer detection and treatment assessment. According to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), OCT is poised to make significant impact in the fields of cardiology and gastrointestinal endoscopy. Access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, however, has been limited, and this has hindered the investigation of new opportunities. "A major focus will be to cultivate strategic research collaborations and respond to a pressing need for application-specific OCT instrumentation and hardware."

To get clinicians on board, new educational programs will be needed. This summer, a private medical center in Bonn, Germany, will provide "the world's first training workshop for clinicians on the use and applications of (OCT) in dermatology," according to organizers. Professor Uwe Reinhold, President of the Onkoderm network of German skin cancer clinics and lead dermatologist at the Medinzinsches Zentrum Bonn, is directing the workshop. His clinic has been routinely using a Michelson Diagnostics VivoSight OCT scanner since early 2012.

But the progress so far is only the beginning. A new market research report titled Emerging Trends in Optical Imaging Techniques for Drug Discovery, Clinical Diagnostics and Molecular Imaging corroborates the NIBIB's assertion about OCT's impact potential. Frost and Sullivan analysts note that, "With OCT technology showing rapid progress, it is believed that many commercial devices addressing a plethora of clinical applications could hit the market over the next 4–5 years." The analysts add that further refinement of OCT technology (see Software-based approach sharpens interferometric imagery, p. 6, for instance) could enable significantly higher resolution and better differentiation of cancerous lesions, embryology studies, and stem cells.

Barbara GoodeBarbara Goode
Editor in Chief

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