BENGALURU: Testing tumour tissues for malignant cancers and removal of such cancerous tissues will be a zero-error procedure. Indian and Dutch researchers are planning to embark on a four-year project to develop high-precision minimally invasive imaging needles for the purpose.The project, starting in August, will involve researchers from Bengaluru-based institutions Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), St John’s Research Institute along with Dutch University of Twente (UTwente), the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the Medical Spectrum Twente (MST) hospital group.
The project with a budget of half-a-million Euros (`4.01 crore) will see developing such minimally invasive needles for photoacoustic medical imaging technology for testing and removal of cancerous tissues. The photoacoustic effect — or optoacoustic effect — is the formation of sound waves following light absorption in a material sample.
The technique involves using minimally invasive needles to shine a laser beam into the human tissue in places where there is rich supply of blood (in the vicinity of tumours, for example).
The absorbed light energy is converted to ultrasound, which can then be detected as it passes through the tissue. The ultrasound signal is then used to generate detailed images of areas inside the tissue, to show clearly where and how blood vessels are distributed.
This reveals the precise extent of the tumour and the probable cancerous tissue to be removed — in a biopsy — to study whether the tumour is cancerous or not.The same technique can also be adopted for removal of the tumour, in which the precision needles can be used to check whether all the cancerous parts of the tumour have been removed to prevent a relapse, explained the researchers.The project leader, Srirang Manohar, says that the technology he is planning to develop will be suitable for virtually any medical procedures in which needles are used.
“It could be used when taking biopsies, for example, or in radiofrequency ablation (RFA), where tumours are ‘burned up’ by needles emitting radio waves. This technique will help doctors to take biopsies more accurately, or to check whether the tumour has been fully removed,” Dr Manohar explained. He leads a University of Twente team made up of researchers from the university’s Biomedical Photonic Imaging group (BMPI) and its Fraunhofer Project Centre (FPC@UT). The FPC@UT is focusing on the engineering and production aspects of the needles.
Dr Manohar will work on this project along with Prof Manish Arora from IISc, Prof Dhananjaya Bhat (from NIMHANS), Prof Tony Raj (from SJRI), Prof Martin Verweij (TU Delft, Netherlands), and Dr Joost Klaase (MST, Netherlands).The researchers have received a grant of half-a-million Euros from The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). This is one of the three projects identified for joint collaboration between Dutch and Indian researchers jointly funded by the ZonMw and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).