Raman Spectroscopy for in vivo disease diagnosis

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A new miniature device has been developed that slides through a channel in the endoscope (telescope) to the surface of the oesophagus to make near instant assessments of its condition, without the need for expensive and distressing tissue removal (biopsies). The project takes this technique from the laboratory to the clinic by demonstrating that the method is safe and reliable for use in patients (in vivo).

We have already shown that it is possible to tell the difference between healthy and diseased tissue in the laboratory by looking at the light emitted by tissue when illuminated with a low-power laser. We have tested the technique on samples from over 500 patients in the lab. We intend to use this technique, known as “Raman Spectroscopy” to tell if tissue in the oesophagus is cancerous, healthy or at some stage before cancer develops, which is termed pre-cancer.

The lab measurements showed that this method will be at least as accurate as the conventional methods used now, but will provide the surgeon with instant results without the delay and cost of laboratory analysis by pathologists.