New cutting edge technology can be used to grade cancer tumours, eradicating human subjectivity and ensuring patients get the right treatment.
A new imaging technology to grade tumour biopsies has been developed by a team of scientists led by the Department of Physics and the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London.
Publishing their results today in the journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology, they describe how their new method promises to significantly reduce the subjectivity and variability in grading the severity of cancers.
Nearly all cancers are still diagnosed by doctors taking a sample of the tumour, a so-called biopsy, then slicing it thinly and staining it with two vegetable dyes used for more than 100 years. They look at this 'H+E stained' sample under a microscope and then judge the severity of the disease by eye alone.
Life-changing treatment decisions have to be based on this 'grading' process, yet it is well known that different practitioners given the same slice will only agree on its grade about 70% of the time, resulting in an overtreatment problem.
The team's new 'Digistain 'technology addresses this problem by using invisible mid-infrared light to photograph the tissue slices in a way that maps out the chemical changes that signal the onset of cancer. In particular, they measure the 'nuclear-to-cytoplasmic-ratio' (NCR): a recognized biological marker for a wide range of cancers.
Lead author Professor Chris Phillips, from the Department of Physics at Imperial, said: "Our machine gives a quantitative 'Digistain index' (DI) score, corresponding to the NCR, and this study shows that it is an extremely reliable indicator of the degree of progression of the disease. Because it is based on a physical measurement, rather than a human judgement, it promises to remove the element of chance in cancer diagnosis. "
In the experiment reported today, the team carried out a double-blind clinical pilot trial using two adjacent slices taken from 75 breast cancer biopsies. The first slice was graded by clinicians as usual, using the standard H+E protocol. It was also used to identify the so-called 'region of interest' (RoI), i.e. the part of the slice containing the tumour.
The team then used the Digistain imager to get a DI value averaged over the corresponding RoI on the other, unstained slice, and ran a statistical analysis on the results.
Professor Phillips said: "Even with this modest number of samples, the correlation we saw between the DI score and the H+E grade would only happen by chance 1 time in 1400 trials. The strength of this correlation makes us extremely optimistic that Digistain will be able to eliminate subjectivity and variability in biopsy grading."
The NCR factor that Digistain measures is known to be common to a wide range of cancers, as it occurs when the reproductive cell cycle gets disrupted in the tumour and cell nuclei get distorted with rogue DNA. It is likely that in the long run, Digistain could help with the diagnosis of all different types of cancer.
At a practical level, the researchers say that the Digistain imaging technology can easily and cheaply be incorporated into existing hospital labs, and be used by their staff. Professor Philips added: "It's easy to prove its worth by checking it with the thousands of existing biopsy specimens that are already held in hospital archives. Together these facts will smooth the path into the clinic, and it could be saving lives in only a couple of years."
Hayley Dunning | EurekAlert!
A game changer: Metagenomic clustering powered by supercomputers
13.03.2018 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How to build a better railway -- in (almost) every cell in your body
13.03.2018 | University of Warwick
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
The realisation of controllable large quantum devices is key for the development of quantum technologies.
Now a team of researchers from the University of Bristol, Peking University, Technical University of Denmark, ICFO Spain, PAS, University of Copenhagen and Dr....
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has developed an inline system for testing, qualifying and adjusting the focused powder jet of the nozzles of laser metal deposition machines. With this system, nozzles can be certified and the caustic characterized completely. The user can also visualize and monitor the process thanks to the camera module with integrated illumination.
Laser Material Deposition has already proven itself in various areas – for example when repairing tools or applying anti-corrosion coatings. But the result...
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research have developed the novel 2D TIRV spectroscopy technique to observe coupling between intramolecular and intermolecular vibrations that make water molecules “dance”.
Liquid water is permeated by a highly dynamic network of strong hydrogen bonds. Motions of molecules in this network underlie fundamental physical and chemical...
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
06.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
13.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
13.03.2018 | Health and Medicine