Spectral Molecular Imaging, Inc. (SMI; Beverly Hills, CA) will receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding through a collaboration with Brattleboro, VT-based Omega Optical to accelerate development of a new class of medical endoscopes enhanced with proprietary multispectral imaging technology. The principal investigators on the project are Dr. Gary Carver, Director of Research at Omega Optical, and Dr. Daniel L. Farkas, Chairman and CEO of SMI.
The SMI/Omega development team intends to rely on fast fiber-optic wavelength selection tools developed for the telecommunications industry—a technology not previously applied in biomedical imaging. This teaming of optical experts from the telecom and biomedical sectors was viewed quite favorably by the NIH. When achieved, the resulting new performance would ultimately enable earlier detection of cancer and other diseases, as well as treatment. "We expect," added Dr. Farkas, "that biomedical researchers could use this new technology to catalog more extensive libraries of spectral images showing tumor growth, angiogenesis and subsequent metastasis. We believe that these enhanced libraries will lead to important new applications in surgical pathology, oncology labs and clinics."
"Today's endoscopes," explained Dr. Farkas, "while highly successful and widely used, provide a limited picture of the areas under investigation. We expect our new class of medical endoscopes to enable collecting information about human tissue signatures with a speed and resolution surpassing anything currently available on the market. When completed, our instruments will provide surgeons, in real time (that is, during intervention) with the sort of diagnostic information that is only available today after slow lab tests on biopsied tissues. We believe this functionality should substantially enhance the ability of physicians to detect and treat a range of diseases of the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tract, including colon and lung cancers."
The $750,000 new grant was awarded by the National Cancer Institute within the NIH, under the federal government's Small Business Innovation Research Initiative—a program designed to speed the translation of important technology from the laboratory to the clinic marketplace. This is a Phase II award, granted upon successful completion of a $100,000 Phase I feasibility study earlier this year. The new Omega/SMI development program, scheduled for two years, focuses on completion of a prototype fast multispectral endoscope and its preclinical testing. This latter activity is scheduled at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where Dr. Farkas was, until very recently, Vice Chairman for Research and Professor in the Department of Surgery, and Director of the Minimally Invasive Surgical Technologies Institute.