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  • Multispectral Endoscopes on Horizon
Aug 2010
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Aug. 24, 2010 – Spectral Molecular Imaging Inc. is to receive National Institutes of Health research funding via a collaboration with Omega Optical Inc. of Brattleboro, Vt. This effort will accelerate development of a new class of medical endoscopes enhanced with proprietary multispectral imaging technology. The principal investigators on the project are Gary Carver, director of research at Omega Optical, and Daniel L. Farkas, chairman and CEO of Spectral Molecular Imaging, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cascade Technologies Inc.

The new $750,000 grant was awarded by the National Cancer Institute within the National Institutes of Health, under the federal government's Small Business Innovation Research Initiative, a program designed to speed the translation of important technology from the laboratory to the clinic marketplace. This is a Phase II award, granted upon successful completion of a $100,000 Phase I feasibility study earlier this year. The joint development program, scheduled for two years, focuses on completion of a prototype fast multispectral endoscope and its preclinical testing. This latter activity is scheduled at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where Farkas was, until very recently, vice-chairman for research and professor in the Department of Surgery, and director of the Minimally Invasive Surgical Technologies Institute.

"Today's endoscopes, while highly successful and widely used, provide a limited picture of the areas under investigation," Farkas said. “We expect our new class of medical endoscopes to enable collecting information about human tissue signatures with a speed and resolution surpassing anything currently available on the market. When completed, our instruments will provide surgeons, in real time (that is, during intervention) with the sort of diagnostic information that is only available today after slow lab tests on biopsied tissues. We believe this functionality should substantially enhance the ability of physicians to detect and treat a range of diseases of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract, including colon and lung cancers.”

The development team intends to rely on fast fiber-optic wavelength selection tools developed for the telecommunications industry – a technology not previously applied in biomedical imaging. This teaming of optical experts from the telecom and biomedical sectors was viewed quite favorably by the National Institutes of Health. When achieved, the resulting new performance would ultimately enable earlier detection of cancer and other diseases, as well as treatment.

“We expect that biomedical researchers could use this new technology to catalog more extensive libraries of spectral images showing tumor growth, angiogenesis and subsequent metastasis,” Farkas said. “We believe that these enhanced libraries will lead to important new applications in surgical pathology, oncology labs and clinics."

Endoscopy is a medical procedure that allows visual internal examination of the body using a small diameter optical instrument, rigid or flexible, and tipped by a camera, called an endoscope. Typically, the endoscope is introduced into the body via small incisions, or through body openings such as the mouth or anus, to allow doctors to examine the esophagus, lungs, stomach and portions of the intestine. The estimated world market for endoscopic imaging and diagnostic products is well in excess of $10 billion per year.

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