Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Optical Tool Could Produce ‘Virtual Biopsies’ for Brain Cancer

06.11.2009
As a Johns Hopkins electrical engineer, Jin U. Kang has spent years tinkering with lasers and optical fiber, studying what happens when light strikes matter. Now, he’s taking on a new challenge: brain surgery.

More precisely, Kang is building a tool to help brain surgeons locate and get a clear look at cancerous tissue. In some cases, Kang says, this device could eliminate the need to cut into the brain for a traditional biopsy, a procedure that can pose risks to the patient.

“The idea,” he says, “is to provide instant high-resolution pictures of a small segment of the brain without actually touching the tissue. These pictures could let the doctor conduct a ‘virtual biopsy’ to see where the tumor is and whether it is benign or malignant. And when it’s time to cut out the cancer, these images could help a surgeon see and avoid healthy tissue.”

Kang’s concept recently received a financial boost that should help move it from the drawing board to the operating room. He was awarded $450,000 in federal stimulus package funds to develop the technology for this new high-tech surgical instrument. The two-year grant has been provided by the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Johns Hopkins professor asked the institute for funding last year. His proposal was well-reviewed, Kang says, but available funds were exhausted by other applicants. When the federal stimulus package provided more money to the institute earlier this year, Kang’s surgical instrument proposal was funded. “If it weren’t for the stimulus money, we probably would not have been able to go ahead with this for at least another year,” he says. “This has moved the project forward, and for that I’m grateful.”

Kang’s team has made great strides in refining the technology, but the surgical tool has not yet been tried out on human patients. The federal grant will enable the researchers to begin animal and human cadaver testing in the coming months. Human patient trials could begin within five years.

To help bring his new technology to hospitals, Kang, who is chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, is collaborating with neurosurgeons in the university’s School of Medicine and with Russell Taylor, who is director of the Johns Hopkins-based National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology.

Kang’s brain imaging design has already generated praise among those who might one day use it in the frontlines of their work: neurosurgeons.

“This instrument would help us perform a biopsy easily and safely, and guide us in removing tumors,” says George Jallo, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and associate professor of neurosurgery at the university’s School of Medicine. “The technology should allow us to distinguish between the tumor and the critical brain structures around it that we want to avoid, such as blood vessels and nerves.”

To give doctors this detailed view of brain tissue, Kang’s device employs ultra-thin optical fiber, the material used in long-distance communication systems, to direct harmless low-powered laser light onto the area the surgeon wants to examine. When the light strikes the tissue, most of it bounces away in a scattered, incoherent manner. But using a technique called optical coherence tomography, the small portion of light that is scattered back can be collected and used to construct a high-resolution three-dimensional picture of the tissue, down to the cellular level. These images are significantly sharper than those produced by MRI or ultrasound equipment, Kang says, and should give surgeons a better look at the boundaries of a tumor and the presence of blood vessels and healthy tissue that must be preserved.

Yet, compared to the older, widely used imaging systems, the new technology is expected to be much less expensive, perhaps less than $10,000. “It’s a very simple and cost-effective system,” Kang says.

Kang’s project is supported by one of more than 300 stimulus-funded research grants totaling almost $150 million that Johns Hopkins has garnered since Congress passed the American Recovery and Revitalization Act of 2009 (informally known by the acronym “ARRA”), bestowing the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation with $12.4 billion in extra money to underwrite research grants by September 2010. The stimulus package -- which provided $550 billion in new spending, including the above grants, and $275 billion in tax relief -- is part of President Barack Obama’s plan to kick-start a stagnant economy by doling out dollars for transportation projects, infrastructure building, the development of new energy sources and job creation, and financing research that will benefit humankind. To date, 78 jobs have been created at Johns Hopkins directly from ARRA funding; in addition, positions have been saved when other grants ran out.

Kang joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering 11 years ago and has developed a number of novel fiber optic devices for sensors and communications. “My specialty now is the use of optical techniques in various medical devices and systems,” he says. In addition to the brain surgery instrument, he is collaborating with computer scientists at the university on a steady-hand tool that would allow physicians to conduct extremely delicate surgery on blood vessels in the retina of the eye.

Color images of the prototype and the researcher available; contact Phil Sneiderman.

Related links:
Jin U. Kang’s Lab Page: http://www.ece.jhu.edu/photonics/
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: http://www.ece.jhu.edu/
NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and
Technology: http://www.cisst.org/

Phil Sneiderman | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.jhu.edu

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht New technique makes brain scans better
22.06.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht New technology enables effective simultaneous testing for multiple blood-borne pathogens
13.06.2017 | Elsevier

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>