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A novel, 3-dimensional approach to non-invasive diagnostics

Institution: University of California, Irvine
Investigator(s): Petra Wilder-Smith, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2005 (Cycle 14) Grant #: 14IT-0097 Award: $99,000
Subject Area: Cancer
Award Type: Inno Dev & Exp Awards (IDEAS)

Initial Award Abstract
The inability to detect oral cancer early results in 10,000 U.S. deaths annually. Less than 50% of patients survive over 5 years. If oral cancer is detected and treated early, survival is better than of most cancers. Current diagnostic techniques require surgical biopsy and often cannot detect early cancerous change. Using certain types of laser light and a technology called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), high-resolution images of tissue structure underneath the surface can be obtained. When a pencil-sized OCT probe is placed on the tissue surface, light from the probe enters the tissues, is reflected back and collected by the probe. The collected light is used to generate an image of the surface and subsurface tissues. The proposed work will test this modality in 84 patients with healthy, premalignant or malignant oral tissues. OCT data will be compared with the conventional histopathological gold standard to determine the diagnostic capability of OCT.

This work will allow the direct, instant, non-surgical early detection of cancer. Fewer surgical biopsies will be necessary and early detection will be greatly facilitated. Treatment options and outcome will be improved enormously. Screening of high-risk populations and monitoring of suspect lesions will become possible. Clinical trials will be improved. This clinical modality will greatly reduce cancer-related suffering, death, and cost. While the emphasis of this proposal is on oral cancer, its application to diagnostics and cancer treatment in many specialties is envisaged.