Optical spectroscopy method shows promise for early pancreatic cancer detection

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed an endoscope-ultrasound guided optical probe to identify pancreatic cancer cells in-vivo.

Researchers at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) have developed an endoscope-ultrasound guided optical probe to identify pancreatic cancer cells in-vivo. The probe technique can differentiate between “normal” cells, those affected by pancreatitis, and those showing early signs of cancer, and could impact around 30% of pancreatic cancer patients in terms of earlier diagnosis and treatment, claims Mary-Ann Mycek, who led the research team.

Mycek’s team established that differences among pancreatic tissue types affect optical spectra differently, allowing fluorescence to be used to identify endogenous biomolecular composition and reflectance for tissue absorption and scattering. The team was able to collect spectral data from freshly excised human pancreatic tissue and identify distinct fluorescence and reflectance spectral profiles for normal, pancreatitis-affected, and pancreatic cancer-affected tissue.

To collect the spectral data, the fiber-optic probe is sent into the patient’s stomach and positioned in the vicinity of the pancreas. Then, the probe is inserted through a hollow needle into contact with the tissue in question, allowing pulses of light to rapidly interrogate the tissue.

Mycek commented, “We developed quantitative photon-tissue interaction models and tissue classification algorithms and used them to successfully distinguish between these pancreatic tissue types. These studies suggest that multimodal optical spectroscopy is promising as a potential clinical method to differentiate diseased and normal pancreatic tissues.”

In-vivo human studies using the method are now underway in the U.S.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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