DOE, University of Rochester back novel endoscope for early bladder cancer detection

Alpha prototype of the i/Blue Imaging System--Courtesy of Imagin

Adding blue-light imaging to white-light endoscopy can give a more complete picture of the body's internal tissues, but can also be more costly, impractical and time-consuming. Vancouver, Canada-based Imagin is teaming up with the University of Rochester and the U.S. Department of Energy on a device that could eliminate these disadvantages and facilitate the early detection of bladder cancer.

While current procedures using white and blue light increase the chance of complete cancer removal and reduce the risk of recurrence, healthcare providers must administer an imaging agent (dye) through a catheter at least one hour before the imaging procedure. This requires not only more time for the whole procedure, but also a level of coordination between the operating room staff and surgeon that often raises the cost. Current systems also project blue-light images and white-light images onto different screens, adding an extra step for surgeons trying to assess a tumor.

Imagin's i/Blue Imaging System could streamline the imaging process. The heightened sensitivity of the device means it doesn't need as much dye in the bladder to "see" the tumor, and it also allows the surgeon to see details in the tissue more quickly than with current technology, a company spokesman said. This cuts down on procedure time and prep time. The i/Blue system is compatible with most currently available endoscopes and blends both white and blue imaging modes onto one screen, eliminating the need to switch between them.

The company signed a collaborative research agreement with the University of Rochester's Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) and the DOE. The initial prototype was developed at a DOE lab, and under the agreement, the LLE team will build it. Meanwhile, the DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will continue to refine the device's design, "system's optical model, components and advanced light sensors." Imagin will bring the devices to clinical trials, regulatory filing and eventually, commercialization, though the company did not specify a timeline.

Imagin also plans to start work on its i/Red Imaging System next year. The device is based on the fluorescence produced by the body and tumor themselves, and the company hopes the technology will make it possible to visualize tumors where imaging agents cannot be administered practically.

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