Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cancer diagnosis: Now in 3-D

11.02.2009
University of Washington researchers have helped develop a new kind of microscope to visualize cells in three dimensions, an advance that could bring great progress in the field of early cancer detection. The technique could also bridge a widening gap between cutting-edge imaging techniques used in research and clinical practices, researchers said.

Eric Seibel, a UW mechanical engineering associate professor, and his colleagues have worked in collaboration with VisionGate, Inc., a privately held company in Gig Harbor, Wash., that holds the patents on the technology. The machine works by rotating the cell under the microscope lens and taking hundreds of pictures per rotation, and then digitally combining them to form a single 3-D image.

The 3-D visualizations could lead to big advances in early cancer detection, since clinicians today identify cancerous cells by using 2-D pictures to assess the cells' shape and size.

"It's a lot easier to spot a misshapen cell if you can see it from all sides," Seibel said. "A 2-D representation of a 3-D object is never perfectly accurate -- imagine trying to get an exact picture of the moon, seeing only one side."

The new microscope, known by the trademarked name Cell-CT, is so named because it works similarly to a CT-scan -- though on a very small scale, and using visible light instead of X-rays. In a CT-scan, the patient is immobile while the X-ray machine rotates. In the Cell-CT microscope, each cell is embedded in a special gel inside a glass tube that rotates in front of a fixed camera that takes many pictures per rotation. The gel has similar optical properties to the tube's so that no light reflects off the glass. In both processes, the end result is that hundreds of pictures are assembled to form a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated on a computer screen.

The new 3-D microscope also helps to bring imaging techniques from the lab to the doctor's office. Although great advances have been made in microscope technology through the years, clinicians have been using essentially the same technique for cancer diagnoses for the last 300 years, Seibel said. Pathologists today still use a cell stain invented in the 1700s to examine sections of suspected cancers. Pathologists do not use any of the newer fluorescent molecular dyes that produce the precise, detailed cellular portraits found in biology journals.

"Scientists have been using fluorescent dyes in research for decades, but these techniques have not yet broken into everyday clinical diagnoses," Seibel said. "There's a big gap between the research and clinical worlds when it comes to cancer, and it's getting wider. We're trying to bridge that gap."

Part of the reason for this gap, Seibel said, is that there is no way to accurately match an image taken using the fluorescent dyes with an image taken using the traditional stains that currently form the basis for cancer diagnoses, and for which diagnostic standards exist. The new 3-D microscope will allow that matchup -- Seibel and his colleagues have shown simultaneous fluorescent and traditional staining of the same cells. The new device is the first 3-D microscope that can use both traditional and fluorescent stains, Seibel said.

"Now that we have a way to compare these stains, we hope this will provide a way to get some of those sophisticated research techniques into clinical use," Seibel said.

The new microscope is also more precise than other 3-D machines currently available. All other microscopes producing 3-D images have poor resolution in the up-down direction, the direction between the sample and the microscope's lens, Seibel said.

Qin Miao, a UW bioengineering doctoral student, used a tiny plastic particle of known dimensions to show the microscope's resolution. He found that the UW group's machine has three times better accuracy in that up-down direction than standard microscopes used in cancer detection. Miao will present the group's findings for the microscope's performance Feb. 9 at the SPIE Medical Imaging conference in Orlando, Fla.

"This means we can do quantitative analysis of cells," Miao said. "This kind of undistorted image is difficult to achieve using other technology."

In another recent publication, Seibel and his colleagues describe a study comparing cancer detection using traditional methods with their 3-D microscope. Pathologists using 3-D technology detected cancer with one-third the error rate compared to those using the traditional microscope. The authors also describe using their microscope to discover a "pre-cancer" cell, a cell that was on the verge of turning cancerous.

"This is where we can make an impact in medicine -- looking for these earliest changes," Seibel said.

Other authors of the paper are J. Richard Rahn, Ryland Bryant, Christy Lancaster, Anna Tourovskaia, Dr. Thomas Neumann and Alan Nelson, all of VisionGate.

Funding was provided by VisionGate and the Washington Technology Center.

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht PET identifies which prostate cancer patients can benefit from salvage radiation treatment
05.12.2017 | Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

nachricht Designing a golden nanopill
01.12.2017 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>