In order to treat breast cancer more quickly, researchers have developed a little microscope that can be maneuvered into tight places inside the body during surgery.
Imperial College London researchers have created an endo-microscope that is less than 1mm in diameter – around the breadth of 25 human hairs – and is designed to be deployed inside the body to provide views of tissue and organs.
The technology was able to produce photos from inside the tissue at “unprecedented speed,” according to the team.
The endo-microscope, which is being developed by Dr. Khushi Vyas and colleagues at the college, is expected to help surgeons discover malignant cells a hundredth of a millimeter in size at a far faster rate than existing procedures.
According to the scientists, it would help lessen the need for follow-up operations to remove malignant cells that had previously escaped detection.
The endo-microscope would also aid in breast-conserving surgery, in which the surgeon removes the cancer while keeping as much normal breast as possible.
Currently, up to 20 percent of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery require such procedures.
Shortening waiting lists
The technology, according to the experts, might also help shorten waiting lists for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
They claimed that using the technology will enable surgeons to identify worrisome tissue around tumors very swiftly and precisely, with the endo-microscope producing up to 120 frames per second.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is part of UK Research and Innovation, is funding the device’s development.
Dr. Kedar Pandya, the council’s director for cross-council programs, stated, “By reducing the time it takes to identify cancerous cells and improve the accuracy of imaging, the endo-microscope developed by Dr. Vyas and his team could benefit patients and the NHS by reducing waiting lists.”
“Our goal is to proceed to clinical trials with the system being available for deployment in around five years,” Dr. Khushi Vyas remarked.
The researchers utilized their technique in preliminary experiments on human cancer tissue and are now testing it on laboratory samples of cancerous tissue with surgeons and pathologists.