Photonics for Cancer Diagnostics

December 1, 2023 - Elisenda Lara

This meeting aimed to connect researchers, doctors, and integrators of photonics technologies. Cultivating enhanced collaboration between clinical centers and industries from the initial stages of product development is imperative. Specifically, input from medical pathologists is crucial to creating photonics applications adoptable in cancer diagnosis, laying the foundation for translational photonics research within a clinical context.

Download the press release. Photonics technologies have emerged as a transformative force in cancer research and treatment, offering innovative solutions that promise to revolutionize cancer diagnostics, surgical procedures, and therapeutic modalities. The unique properties of laser light have enabled its use for early cancer detection, precision surgery, and advanced imaging, while photonics sensors, spectroscopy, and analytical techniques have played pivotal roles in enhancing our ability to combat this devastating disease.

The remarkable progress in photonics technology has paved the way for the development of powerful imaging systems that enable clinicians to visualize detailed structures within living tissues, thus improving both diagnostic accuracy and therapeutic interventions. Moreover, photonics-enabled technologies such as Raman spectroscopy, surgical lasers, optical coherence tomography (OCT), endoscopy, hyperspectral imaging, photoacoustic tomography, and fluorescence imaging have the potential to introduce new solutions and equipment to hospitals and clinics worldwide.

13 women on the stage of UZA auditorium.
Some of the attendees at the EPIC Meeting on Photonics assisted Cancer Pathology and Surgery at University Hospital Antwerp

A panel of experts delved into these critical photonics technologies for health applications during the EPIC meeting on Photonics assisted Cancer Pathology and Surgery held at University Hospital Antwerp on November 29-30, 2023.

SESSION 1 and 2 : Photonics Technologies for Cancer Diagnostics

Hyperspectral Imaging in Cancer Diagnostics. By Fabrizio Preda, CEO of NIREOS

Fabrizio Preda discussed the emerging modality of hyperspectral imaging and its applications in cancer detection and diagnosis. NIREOS has introduced HERA, a novel optical system for hyperspectral imaging based on Fourier-transform spectroscopy, promising high spectral accuracy and light throughput. This technology has the potential to revolutionize medical imaging precision.

Fabrizio Preda is talking to the audience about Digital Pathology and Hyperspectral Imaging in the auditorium of the University Hospital Antwerp (UZA).
Fabrizio Preda, presented the latest results obtained with their hyperspectral camera applied to medical imaging

Clinical-Compatible Stimulated Raman Imaging Device for Intraoperative Histology of Fresh Tissue Samples. By Tim Hellwig, CEO & Co-Founder of Refined Lasers

Tim Hellwig unveiled Refined Laser Systems‘ innovative intraoperative microscope prototype that identifies tumor margins in real-time and offers rapid diagnosis with the assistance of remote pathologists and AI. This technology has the potential to significantly reduce the time and stress associated with cancer surgeries.

Tim Hellwig is presenting on stage, the heads of some listeners seated in the auditorium can be seen from behind the stage.
Tim Hellwig presented their clinical compatible mobile prototype for label-free histopathology directly in the operating theatre

Broadband Stimulated Raman Histology for Objective, AI Assisted Tumor Diagnosis. By Matteo Negro, CEO & CTO at Cambridge Raman Imaging

Matteo Negro shed light on how Coherent Raman Imaging, particularly stimulated Raman histology (SRH), revolutionized cancer diagnostics by providing sub-cellular resolution and molecule-specific contrast. He introduced a broadband approach to SRH that opened the door to chemometric analysis of tissues with artificial intelligence, enabling virtual H&E staining and tissue segmentation for tumor diagnostic purposes.

Matteo Negro in the stage and the audience listening to his presentation
Matteo Negro during his presentation

Development of a Fiber Optic Technology Platform for Raman Spectroscopic Tissue Analysis. By Gerwin Puppels, Managing Director of RiverD

Gerwin Puppels provided insights into RiverD‘s efforts to develop a fiber optic technology platform for tissue analysis based on Raman spectroscopy. This technology holds promise in various applications, including Raman-guided surgery and biopsy, and could potentially revolutionize clinical procedures.

Gerwin Pupples is on the stage while some attendees are listening and taking notes with their laptops.
Gerwin Pupples highlighted the importance of making an easy-to-use technology that has clinical applications and doesn’t need Raman expertise.

A Photonics Platform for Multiplexed Liquid Biopsy-based Cancer Screening, Detection, and Monitoring. By Luc Scheres, CTO at Surfix Diagnostics

Luc Scheres discussed Surfix Diagnostics‘ innovative photonic diagnostics platform, which leverages photonic integrated chip (PIC) technology for highly scalable and multiplexed liquid biopsy-based cancer screening. This approach has the potential to offer a non-invasive and cost-effective alternative to traditional cancer diagnostics methods.

Luc Scheres is on the stage of the UZA auditorium
Luc Scheres presented their Photonic Diagnostic Platform that matches liquid biopsy with cancer diagnostics

Light Activated Drug Delivery in Oncology. By Petteri Uusimaa, Founder & CTO of Modulight

Petteri Uusimaa explored the applications of light-activated drug delivery, such as photoimmunotherapy (PIT), in the field of oncology. This technology offers potent localized tumor control, reduced side effects, and long-term immunotherapeutic anti-cancer effects, providing new avenues for cancer care.

Petteri Uusimaa is reading some notes at the lectern as he makes his presentation to the audience.
Petteri Uusimaa presented their patended drug delivery system and cloud connected medical devices

Fastlane to the Clinic: Regulatory Aspects and Documentation and Certification Requirements

Clinical Evaluation: What Does it Take to Bring Your Meaningful Innovation to the Market? By Claus Schaffrath, Managing Director at MD squared

Claus Schaffrath delved into the regulatory challenges and requirements in bringing photonics innovations that can improve cancer diagnosis to the medical device market. He provided valuable insights into the clinical evaluation process, highlighting the importance of demonstrating safety and performance in medical applications.

Claus Schaffrath talking to the audience of UZA.  We see the backs of some attendees sitting in the auditorium.
Claus Schaffrath explained why all Clinical Evaluations hing on the applicable Stadard Of Car of Alternative Treatment

During the meeting, we had time for networking during the coffee breaks and the dinner, below you can find a selection of pictures, the whole album is available here.

This meeting aimed to connect researchers, doctors, and integrators of photonics technologies. It is imperative to cultivate enhanced collaboration between clinical centers and industries right from the initial stages of product development. Specifically, input from medical pathologists is needed to create photonics applications that can be adopted in cancer diagnosis, laying the foundation for translational photonics research within a clinical context.