Nanoscopic Changes to Pancreatic Cells Reveal Cancer



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society
+1.202.416.1435
lmeyer@osa.org

Jason Socrates Bardi
American Institute of Physics
301.209.3091
jbardi@aip.org

Nanoscopic Changes to Pancreatic Cells Reveal Cancer

New Spectroscopy Technique May Help Detect Deadly Disease Early

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13—A team of researchers in Chicago has developed a way to examine cell biopsies and detect never-before-seen signs of early-stage pancreatic cancer, according to a new paper in the Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters. Though the new technique has not yet proven effective in double-blind clinical trials, it may one day help diagnose cancers of the pancreas and, potentially, other organs at their earliest and most treatable stages, before they spread.

A team from Northwestern University and NorthShore University HealthSystem (formerly Evanston Northwestern Healthcare) describes the first application of their new technique in the journal, which they call partial wave microscopic spectroscopy. This technique allows them to examine cell samples taken from people who have undergone screening for pancreatic cancer to detect signs of the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is typically diagnosed by hospital pathologists who look for telltale changes to the morphology of pancreatic cells when they examine cell biopsies under the microscope. The problem is that in the early stages of cancer, many early-stage cancer cells appear normal. By the time the cancerous cells undergo observable changes, it may be too late in the disease progression for effective treatment.

In fact, only 7 percent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in the earliest stages of the disease, when the cancer is still confined to its primary site. More than half of all people with the disease are not diagnosed until it has already metastasized.

"In the beginning, cells look normal," says Vadim Backman, a professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University who developed partial wave microscopic spectroscopy with his former graduate students Yang Liu and Hariharan Subramanian and postdoctoral fellow Prabhakar Pradhan. The new technique measures nanoscopic changes to the interior architecture of cells -- changes that may signal signs of cancer even in cells that look normal under the microscope.

To test their technique, Backman and Subramanian collaborated with gastroenterologists Hemant K. Roy and Randall Brand, who had collected tissue samples from people undergoing biopsies to detect pancreatic cancer.

The new technique works by detecting fluctuations in the cells' refractive index (an optical property that measures how cells bend light passing through them). No other technique has ever measured this quantitatively, says Backman. These fluctuations are influenced by nanoscopic changes to the cells' interior architecture that often occur much earlier than the changes pathologists can detect under their microscopes. The more architectural disorder there is inside the cell, the more the refractive index fluctuates.

The Chicago researchers showed that by quantifying these fluctuations, partial wave spectroscopy could identify cancer cells even in cases where they had not been detected by pathologists.

Partial wave microscopic spectroscopy may be a boon to medicine, if it proves effective in clinical trials at detecting cancers early -- especially for people with pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 37,000 men and women in the United States were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008, and statistically 95 percent of them will succumb to the disease within five years.

The research was funded by a National Science Foundation SGER grant, the National Institutes of Health and the V Foundation.

Paper: "Partial wave microscopic spectroscopy detects sub-wavelength refractive index fluctuations: an application to cancer diagnosis," Hariharan Subramanian et al., Optics Letters, Vol. 34, No. 4, Feb. 15, 2009.

Editor’s Note: Experts Available
Author:
Vadim Backman
Biomedical Engineering Department,
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Subject-Matter Source:
Edward Whittaker
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ
Associate Editor, Optics Letters

To set up interviews or for a copy of the paper, please contact Lyndsay Meyer, 202.416.1435, lmeyer@osa.org. For more information on the Northwestern team’s research and the technique used, visit NSF’s Web site.

About OSA
Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

###

Share:
Keyword
Topics

Guide Star Alliance Team Receives OSA’s 2017 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that Guide Star Alliance is the winner of the 2017 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. Under contract of and in close collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), industrial partners, TOPTICA Photonics and MPB Communications (MPBC), joined together to develop a high-power CW tunable laser system called the SodiumStar. The team’s development is now considered the quasi-standard for existing and planned telescopes around the world. The Guide Star Alliance will receive the award on 18 September 2017, during Frontiers in Optics (FiO) + Laser Science (LS) in Washington DC, USA.

Added: 18 Aug 2017


New Terahertz Imaging Approach Could Speed Up Skin Cancer Detection

Researchers have developed a new terahertz imaging approach that, for the first time, can acquire micron-scale resolution images while retaining computational approaches designed to speed up image acquisition. This combination could allow terahertz imaging to be useful for detecting early-stage skin cancer without requiring a tissue biopsy from the patient.

Added: 17 Aug 2017


New Tool Aims to Make Surgery Safer by Helping Doctors See Nerves

During operations, it can be difficult for surgeons to avoid severing crucial nerves because they look so much like other tissue. A new noninvasive approach that uses polarized light to make nerves stand out from other tissue could help surgeons avoid accidentally injuring nerves or assist them in identifying nerves in need of repair.

Added: 16 Aug 2017


Relativistic Self-Focusing Gives Mid-IR Driven Electrons a Boost

Conventional particle accelerators can range from large room-sized devices to facilities multiple kilometers across. One of the ways that scientists have looked to reduce the size and expense of future accelerators is by developing laser –driven plasma acceleration. Such accelerators, however, are growing in size and complexity in order to maintain relevance for one of their applications—high energy physics. However, there are many applications that can use a lower energy and higher repetition rate accelerated beam. For the first time, scientists have observed the production of relativistic electrons driven by low-energy, ultrashort mid-infrared laser pulses.

Added: 15 Aug 2017


OSA Laser Congress Plenary to Highlight Ultrafast Laser Systems and Black Hole Detection

The OSA Laser Congress 2017 will feature the latest advancements in solid state laser developments and related technologies for use in free space laser communication, laser-based sensing and numerous industrial applications.

Added: 10 Aug 2017


New Optical Method Pinpoints Weak Spots in Jet Engine Thermal Coatings

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, that an optical analysis method can reveal weak areas in ceramic thermal barrier coatings that protect jet engine turbines from high temperatures and wear. The technique could be used to predict how long coatings would last on an airplane and might eventually lead to new thermal barrier coatings, making engines more efficient and cutting both the cost and pollution of air travel.

Added: 09 Aug 2017


The Optical Society Congratulates Ed White on Selection as Chair of the NPI

The Optical Society (OSA) commends the selection of Edward White, associate vice president of test, assembly and packaging and corporate outreach for AIM Photonics, as the next National Photonics Initiative (NPI) Steering Committee Chair. White will succeed Alan Willner, the Steven and Kathryn Sample Chair in Engineering University of Southern California and 2016 president of OSA. The National Photonics Initiative is an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, and its impact on society.

Added: 04 Aug 2017


See the World Differently at FIO + LS 2017

Whether you are in an autonomous vehicle looking to avoid collisions with nearby objects, or sitting on Earth and trying to detect collisions of black holes in the furthest galaxies, the Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science APS/DLS (FIO + LS) plenary presentations will detail recent achievements in gravitational wave science and today’s LiDAR applications.

Added: 03 Aug 2017


The Optical Society Foundation Concludes Successful 2017 Innovation School

The Optical Society Foundation (OSAF) hosted early-career professionals during its first Innovation School from 23-27 July at OSA headquarters in Washington DC. The four-day program focused on honing ‘intrapreneurial’ skills through a series of interactive ‘ideation and customer validation’ exercises. In addition, the hands-on program was accompanied by presentations led by CEO’s, entrepreneurs and innovation leaders in the optics and photonics industry.

Added: 01 Aug 2017


The Optical Society Creates Optical Design Innovator Award

The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce the creation of the Kevin P. Thompson Optical Design Innovator Award recognizing significant contributions to lens design, optical engineering or metrology by an individual at an early career stage. The inaugural award will be given in 2018.

Added: 26 Jul 2017


Sophisticated Medical Imaging Technique Proves Useful for Automotive Industry

Many of today’s cars are coated with paint that exhibits a metallic or glittery shine. The exact sparkle and color you see is determined by the distribution and characteristics of tiny metal flakes used in the paint. A new approach based on the medical imaging technique optical coherence tomography (OCT) provides the car industry with a practical way to automatically analyze these metal flakes, which until now have been difficult to image, in order to improve the efficiency of the automotive finishing process.

Added: 25 Jul 2017


Optics Leaders Announced as Visionary Speakers for 2017 FIO + LS Meeting

The Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science APS/DLS (FIO + LS) conference and exhibition provides a venue for leaders in the optics and photonics community to discuss the latest advances in the field. In 2017, the FIO + LS meeting has been thoughtfully redesigned and revised, offering attendees the best of past meetings while adding innovative elements to this year’s meeting. A new speaker category of visionary speakers have been added and will deliver presentations around the four conference themes

Added: 20 Jul 2017