HRME HIGH-RESOLUTION MICROENDOSCOPE
Global Health Challenge:
Detecting cancer early is critical for effective treatment and cure. Yet many people remain unaware of problems because early disease often does not produce noticeable symptoms. Moreover, while some imaging techniques such as CT and MRI scans can detect some cancers and other diseases at an early stage, most are limited to high resource settings due to expense and equipment size. Developing countries lack resources and infrastructure to perform this type of life- saving screening. Current approaches in cancer diagnostics in developed countries include screening followed by abnormal areas undergoing additional screening with biopsies. If precancerous lesions are found, treatment procedures are performed. Although these techniques are effective, they are expensive, require high-level infrastructure, well-trained personnel and multiple patient visits with communication of test results between visits. There is therefore a significant need for alternative solutions, particularly in low resource settings.
Rice 360 Solution:
Our group has developed a portable, battery-operated, high-resolution microendoscope (HRME) that provides subcellular images of the epithelium, delineating the cellular and morphologic changes associated with cancer. HRME can be inserted into a body cavity, such as the mouth, esophagus, or cervix. To visualize cells, a non-toxic fluorescent dye that stains cell nuclei is applied to the suspicious area and the HRME is inserted into the body. Within seconds of applying the dye and inserting the HRME, a magnified image of the cells is displayed on the camera’s LCD screen in real-time. Cancerous tissue can be distinguished from healthy tissue by the shape and organization of nuclei. The technology may reduce the number of painful biopsies physicians must take to make a diagnosis.
Current Status and Next Steps:
HRME has been tested in multiple pilot studies to evaluate its performance in the esophagus, stomach, oral cavity and cervix. After collecting extensive preliminary data, we are now optimizing and validating a lower-cost version that is tablet or cell phone-based. This new system has a software interface that provides real-time image interpretation assistance, thus facilitating usage by less-experienced clinicians in low-resource settings.