During surgical removal of a tumour a safe margin of healthy tissue surrounding it must also be cut, to ensure no cancerous tissue remains. For this, surgeons sometimes take biopsy samples of the surrounding tissue for laboratory analysis, but must then await the result before resuming surgery.
During cancer surgery, the MDL system provides, in real-time, high-resolution sub-surface images of excised tissue — at far higher resolution than ultrasound or MRI scans, MDL reports.
Ex-vivo clinical testing has taken place at University College Hospital, London and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. At the latter, tissue sample images from the OCT scanner were compared with histopathology images analysed by trained pathologists. Florian Bazant-Hegemark, biophotonics expert at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, said: ‘Clinical features of oesophagus tissue and of lymph nodes can be established, in real time, with the MDL OCT scanner, which is very exciting, because it means that OCT scanning has a realistic chance of guiding biopsy and of reducing the need for biopsy, which could speed up cancer operations, reduce the pressure on overloaded pathology departments, and improve outcomes from cancer surgery. The next stage is to confirm these preliminary results in large double-blind trials.’
Michelson Diagnostics recently secured £600,000 of early stage funding to further enhance its pioneering technology and pursue in-vivo trials in a clinical environment. The investment round was led by investment fund London Seed Capital in conjunction with the London Business Angels and Catapult Venture Managers. ‘This funding,’ said Jon Holmes, CEO of MD, ‘will enable the company to continue the development of our Optical Coherence Tomography technology and demonstrate its potential to solve significant unmet medical needs in multi-billion pound markets worldwide. We are tremendously excited by the confidence shown in Michelson Diagnostics by our new investors.’
In September, a new collaboration, led by MDL, was also awarded a £325k grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board. This collaboration is between MDL, University of Cardiff, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, National Physical Laboratory, semiconductor specialist Kamelian and medical imaging systems specialist Tactiq.
The funded project, named ‘Omicron’, will, over a period of two years, focus on the development of an in-vivo imaging probe, using the MDL OCT, to obtain high resolution sub-surface images of cancerous tissue, operating at the new, untried wavelength of 1Ìm.
Leading OCT researcher Professor Wolfgang Drexler, Director of Research at the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Cardiff, said: ‘We believe that images acquired at 1Ìm wavelength will offer improved contrast and resolution that will help clinicians to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue.’