Trimodal Handheld Probe Based on Raman Spectroscopy and Confocal Imaging for Cancer Detection

Clinical Need

The American Cancer Society recommends that the best way to find skin cancers early is to recognize changes in existing skin lesions or the appearance of new lesions by regular self-examination. One way to facilitate this routine examination of skin lesions would be the availability of an easy-to-use, non-invasive device that scanned the body in a relatively short time. Such a device could be utilized through the general physician's office or the dermatologist's office to track any suspicious lesions over time.

Skin cancer detection relies on histology followed by simple or layered excision, depending on the type and extent of the pathology found. Regular visual inspection and preemptive removal of suspicious lesions is standard in the management of this disease. However, if a tool could be developed that objectively provided definitive diagnosis of a lesion and simplified tracking of skin lesions over time, routine non-essential removal of unsure lesions could be avoided and patient care could be more efficiently managed. In patients who do not undergo routine examination of skin lesions, such a tool would be even more essential. The diagnostic method would have to be effective in differentiating normal skin tissue from benign lesions, such as nevi, from malignant lesions, in a real-time, effective manner that would otherwise be hard to identify accurately using current techniques.

Technology Background

Optical spectroscopy can provide automated, fast and non-intrusive characterization of normal and non-normal tissues. Specifically, Raman spectroscopy, a powerful technique that probes the biochemistry of the tissue, can be used to provide accurate differential diagnosis of early disease. Recent studies indicate the need to isolate the signatures from the different layers of tissue. Confocal Raman spectroscopy provides such characterization with optical sectioning. However, Raman spectroscopy is a purely biochemical technique and yields limited information about the tissue microstructure. Additionally, Raman signals can be too weak for imaging.

The overall focus of this technology is to produce real-time spectroscopic images with variable resolution (low resolution for screening, higher resolution for diagnosis) and automated diagnosis that can be overlaid with black and white spatial images to provide identification of non-normal lesions with high sensitivity for the management of disease through a combined screening and diagnostic device that can be applied in a variety of organ systems. We have developed a single handheld device for combined confocal imaging and confocal Raman spectroscopy as well as gross spatial imaging as a clinical diagnostic tool for cancer detection in humans, with a specific emphasis on the skin.

Intellectual Property Status

US Patent 8,300,220 "Device and Method for Non-Invasively Evaluating a Target of Interest of a Living Subject" issued on 10/30/2012

Anita Mahadevan-JansenDavid DickensheetsChad Lieber
Licensing manager: 
Ashok Choudhury

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