LONDON, March 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
The way cancer is diagnosed could soon be more accurate and reliable thanks to a team of British scientists.
The lead researcher Dr Hemmel Amrania of Imperial College has developed a new imaging technology to grade tumour biopsies.
Publishing their results yesterday in the journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology, his team describes how their new method promises to significantly reduce the subjectivity and variability in diagnosing the severity of cancers.
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.
Dr Amrania claims: "Our machine gives a quantitative score (Digistain Index) analogous to the NCR, 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 yesterday, the team carried out a double-blinded clinical pilot using 75 breast cancer biopsies.
Dr Amrania 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 once in 1400 trials. The strength of this correlation makes us very optimistic that Digistain will be able to eliminate subjectivity and variability in biopsy grading.
Looking to the future, the NCR factor that Digistain measures is known to be common to a wide range of cancers; it happens when the reproductive cell cycle gets disrupted in the tumour cell nuclei get distorted with rogue DNA. Because of this, it is likely that in the long run, Digistain will help with the diagnosis of all the different types of cancer that there are.
At a practical level, the Digistain imaging technology can easily and cheaply be incorporated into existing hospital labs and be used by their staff. 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.
Dr Hemmel Amrania, +44(0)203-283-8619, firstname.lastname@example.org