In the foreseeable future there’ll be no need to stick needles/syringes into your arm (or other body part) to draw blood for testing if Technion scientists and smart biomedical entrepreneurs have their way. Instead, someone can take an image of your blood, and use this for routine diagnosis.
The Technion team demonstrated a non-invasive technique for imaging blood cells in vivo that could eliminate the need to extract blood from many patients. Their high-resolution Spectrally Encoded Flow Cytometry (SEFC) probe offers primary care physicians the capability to detect directly a wide range of common medical disorders, such as anaemia and bacterial infection, and potentially life threatening conditions, including sepsis, thrombosis and sickle cell crisis.
As well as enabling an immediate medical response to be offered, SEFC could also allow large-scale screening for common blood disorders. Vitally, its ability to directly and continuously visualise blood cells flowing inside patients could also provide an early warning of a medical emergency, such as internal bleeding, in post-operative and critical-care conditions.
SEFC was developed by the Biomedical Optics Laboratory, headed by Dr. Dvir Yelin. Their focus is the application of advanced optics to address some of today’s clinical challenges, particularly the development of non- or minimally-invasive diagnostic tools.
|Dr. Dvir Yelin at the Biomedical Optics Lab. Technion.|
Here’s a description of the difficulties (and how they were solved) with imaging blood that’s beneath skin from the Aug. 31, 2012 Andor news release.
According to Lior Golan, one of the researchers at the Biomedical Optics Laboratory, two major challenges needed to be solved. “SEFC Images of fast-moving blood cells are acquired from deep under the surface of the skin through tissue that scatters the light. This means that very little light is available and necessitates the use of a spectrometer equipped with a high-speed line camera. The Andor Newton DU970N-BV camera provided our team with a combination of high sensitivity and the required line rate for imaging physiological blood flow. Switching between 2-D image and full vertical binning mode on the Newton camera also made the alignment of the spectrometer very easy and the ability to customise the Labview software development kit to control the camera was very convenient.”
Having demonstrated the clinical potential of SEFC, the team believes that miniaturization of the probe’s optics is feasible to produce a compact, hand-held SEFC probe, free of moving parts and connected to the main system console by just a pair of optical fibers. This would allow the application of SEFC for minimally invasive applications, either as a standalone device or through the instrument channel of an endoscope.
In this invention, a method for imaging the cross section of a vessel for detecting the flow of cells using spectrally encoded imaging was developed. This method provides visual information on the scattering particles, including their size, shape, brightness, as well as their location within the vessel. Such information could significantly increase the accuracy of flow cytometry and provide additional capabilities, such as cell sorting and the modification and destruction of specific cells. Potential applications include in vivo and ex vivo flow cytometry for industrial and clinical applications. For in vivo applications, the compact dimensions and simplicity of the probe, which is approximately 20 x 5 x 5 mm in size with no moving parts, could enable endoscopic flow cytometry in various locations in the bodyFurther information