Through improved detection and precision sampling we can help the early diagnosis of diseases
Over the years, the human body has become increasingly more transparent with conventional medical imaging providing detailed anatomical information of organs. The detection of disease has traditionally relied on detecting changes in organs at the macroscopic level. However, newer functional or molecular imaging strategies can now detect cellular and molecular changes, thereby detecting diseases early, even before they cause any anatomical changes. These changes can then be used for targeted tissue sampling (i.e. biopsies) which will then provide unique molecular signatures of diseases specific for each patient (i.e. Precision Diagnosis), such that custom and tailored Precision Therapies can then be developed to improve disease responses and overall outcomes.
Early Detection Improves Outcome
Molecular Imaging and Early Detection Conventional imaging is able to detect diseases only when there is a physical/anatomical change. However, as we gain a greater understanding into the molecular pathways which are activated in different diseases, we are now developing molecular probes which can detect these changes at the earliest possible stage, often before there is any gross change. Our research is developing nanoprobes for the early detection of abnormal cells as well as changes that occur in the tissue microenvironment either when diseases start or as they change in response to therapy.
Targeted Biopsies While diseases can be detected based on alterations in organ morphology, the diagnosis often remains broad. To make a specific diagnosis, small tissue samples of the organ are usually taken for microscopic analysis in the form of a biopsy. Usually, these are taken minimally invasively using image guided percutaneous approaches and rely on the fact that the sampled area is representative of the disease process. However, to improve accuracy and diagnostic yield, biopsies can now be targeted from specific locations based on specific imaging characteristics. To facilitate this, we can now fuse different (i.e. anatomical as well as functional) imaging modalities, thereby taking the advantage of each one, to allow us to be precise in our ability to obtain diseased tissues
Augmented and Virtual Reality The interventional suite is a complex environment that requires the integration of multiple complex imaging modalities with different technologies and equipment. We are exploring ways we can bring this all into the control of the interventional physician during procedures through augmented and virtual reality to allow them to be able to operate with all the required information within their immediate reach in a “heads up display”, analogous to what we currently use in cars. These technologies allow for a more efficient integration of all the information required to target and sample tissues for precision diagnosis.