The incidence of skin cancer in Europe, US and Australia is rising rapidly. One in five will develop some form of skin cancer during the lifetime. A person has a 1:33 chance to develop melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer.
Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women aged 20-29, and the sixth most common cancer in men and women. In 2007, more than 1 million new cases were diagnosed in the US alone.
About 90% of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. A significant improvement of the current diagnostic tools of dermatologists is required in order to identify dermal disorders at a very early stage as well as to monitor directly the effects of treatment.
In the context of the SKINSPECTION project, a European consortium has developed a novel multimodal hybrid diagnostic imaging system with the capability to perform non-invasive high resolution three-dimensional imaging in-vivo.
The SKINSPECTION approach combines two-photon imaging with time-correlated single photon detection, autofluorescence lifetime imaging, high-frequency ultrasound and optoacoustic imaging. The innovative combination of these modalities allows to obtain a wide-field view with quantitative depth information of skin lesions and a close-look into particular intra-tissue compartments with quantitative hyperspectral information and subcellular resolution. The goal of the project is to provide a novel unique tool for early diagnosis and treatment control of skin cancer and skin disease.
For achieving this objective, two systems for microscopic and macroscopic imaging of lesions were developed in the last 3 years by the partners JenLab GmbH and Imperial College London (two-photon microscopy/FLIM) and Fraunhofer IBMT (Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering) and kibero GmbH (optoacoustic/ultrasound imaging). The systems were successfully certified for clinical studies and are currently being evaluated for imaging of skin lesions in a bicentric clinical trial at Hammersmith Hospital and Universita di Modena.
Annette Maurer | Fraunhofer-Institut
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Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
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Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
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