Researchers from University of Cambridge said they are developing a new imaging technique with the aim of detecting and characterising early cancerous changes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The technique involves using a standard endoscopy system with a novel set of camera filters, increasing the number of colours that can be visualised during endoscopy and potentially improving the ability to detect abnormal cells in the lining of the gut.
“In traditional endoscopy, we use white light and detectors that replicate our eyes, which detect light in red, green and blue colour channels. We are now developing an approach called ‘hyperspectral imaging’, which will increase the number of colour channels that can be visualised from three to over 50,” explained Sarah Bohndiek from University of Cambridge.
“Since cell changes associated with the development of cancer lead to colour changes in the tissues, we believe that hyperspectral imaging could help us to improve the specificity of lesion identification because we can use these colours to identify abnormal tissues,” Bohndiek added.
Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
In contrast to the human eye, which sees colour primarily in three bands (red, green and blue), spectral imaging divides the colour spectrum into many more bands and can be extended beyond the visible range of light.
The images obtained by hyperspectral imaging can provide information about the physiology and chemical composition of human tissues, and the technique is emerging as having great potential for non-invasive diagnosis and image-guided surgery.
“Hyperspectral imaging is a powerful tool that can reveal the chemical composition of human tissues and together with different fluorescent dyes, can identify a range of biological processes,” Bohndiek pointed out.
“The technique has many potential applications within cancer diagnostics, with exciting developments already reported in the detection of Barrett’s oesophagus, which is a precancerous condition in some people,” Bohndiek noted.
The technique was presented at UEG Week 2016 in Vienna, Austria.