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

Optical Communications Innovators to Deliver Keynote Presentations at OFC 2018

The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC), the world’s leading conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals, is pleased to announce the outstanding lineup of keynote speakers for OFC 2018. Marcus Weldon, Nokia Bell Labs, USA, John C. Doyle, California Institute of Technology (CalTech), USA, and Chengliang Zhang, China Telecom, China, will take the stage to discuss future innovations in optics-based communication technologies.

Added: 19 Oct 2017


David J. Wineland and Amnon Yariv Named 2017 Honorary Members of The Optical Society

The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to name the recently elected, 2017 Honorary Members. The recipients are David Jeffrey Wineland, 2012 Physics Nobel Laureate, University of Oregon, USA, and Amnon Yariv, California Institute of Technology (CalTech), USA. The 2017 Honorable Members were approved unanimously by the OSA Board of Directors. Honorary Membership is the most distinguished of all OSA Member categories and is awarded to individuals who have made unique, seminal contributions to the field of optics.

Added: 18 Oct 2017


New Imaging Approach Maps Whole-Brain Changes from Alzheimer’s Disease in Mice

An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Although treatments can slow the worsening of symptoms, scientists are still working to better understand the neurodegenerative disease so that curative and preventative medicines can be developed. A new imaging system could help speed new drug development by offering a better way to monitor the brain changes indicative of Alzheimer’s in mouse models of the disease.

Added: 17 Oct 2017



The Optical Society Announces 2018 Fellows Class

The Optical Society (OSA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that 101 OSA members, representing 19 countries, have been elected to the 2018 OSA Fellows Class. Fellows are selected based on several factors, including specific scientific, engineering, and technological contributions, technical or industry leadership in the field as well as service to OSA and the global optics community.

Added: 13 Oct 2017


In a first for wearable optics, researchers develop stretchy fiber to capture body motion

The exciting applications of wearable sensors have sparked a tremendous amount of research and business investment in recent years. Sensors attached to the body or integrated into clothing could allow athletes and physical therapists to monitor their progress, provide a more detailed level of motion capture for computer games or animation, help engineers build robots with a lighter touch or form the basis for new types of real-time health monitors.

Added: 12 Oct 2017


Freeze Frame Microscopy for 3D Biological Images Captures 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

“The Nobel Committee’s recognition of yet another type of biomedical imaging underscores just how important, and enabling imaging and microscopy techniques are to all areas of science and medicine,” stated Elizabeth M.C. Hillman, professor of Biomedical Engineering at Radiology, Columbia University, and general chair of the upcoming 2018 OSA BioPhotonics Congress.

Added: 04 Oct 2017


Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe; LIGO Team Awarded 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics

Astrophysicists have long sought to detect ripples in space-time, called gravitational waves, since Albert Einstein’s 1916 prediction of General Relativity. But only some of the most massive astrophysical events, such as mergers of black holes and neutron stars, can produce gravitational waves strong enough to be detected on earth. Today, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne, California Institute of Technology, USA and Rainer Weiss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves."

Added: 03 Oct 2017


DNA: The next hot material in photonics?

Using DNA from salmon, researchers in South Korea hope to make better biomedical and other photonic devices based on organic thin films. Often used in cancer treatments and health monitoring, thin films have all the capabilities of silicon-based devices with the possible added advantage of being more compatible with living tissue.

Added: 02 Oct 2017


Circadian Rhythms, the Body's Natural Time-Keeping System, Awarded 2017 Nobel Prize

Most of the processes that occur in the mind and body follow natural rhythms. Those with a cycle length of about one day are named circadian rhythms. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded today to Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash of Brandeis University, USA and Michael W. Young, Rockefeller University, USA, "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm."

Added: 02 Oct 2017


The Optical Society Congratulates the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaboration for Fourth Gravitation

Albert Einstein’s 1916 general theory of relativity was validated for a fourth time according a joint announcement between the international LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations. Only some of the most massive astrophysical events, such as mergers of black holes and neutron stars, can produce gravitational waves strong enough to be detected on earth. On August 14, the Virgo Collaboration, along with the U.S. LIGO observatories, detected its first gravitational wave signal from a pair of black holes violently merging over a billion light-years away. LIGO’s previous detections have stemmed from merging black holes but this is the first time a merger has been witnessed by three observatories at one time.

Added: 28 Sep 2017


OSA Laser Congress Highlights Latest Advances in Solid State Lasers, Free-space Laser Communication,

The 2017 OSA Laser Congress will offer a comprehensive view of the latest advancements in solid state lasers and other related technology. The conference program is comprised of a global audience of laser leaders and a comprehensive, peer-reviewed presentations. Market-focused sessions describe the needed technological and engineering advancements required to move these laser technologies into commercial products.

Added: 26 Sep 2017