Compiled by BioPhotonics staff
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Cancer under the skin may be found and examined more easily, thanks to a new portable
optical technology featuring a liquid lens that provides unprecedented high-resolution 3-D images of what lies beneath the skin’s surface.
The new method, which consists of a probe that touches the skin,
eliminates the inconvenience and expense of skin lesion diagnosis. It was developed
at the University of Rochester by optics professor Jannick Rolland, who presented
her findings in February at the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
A prototype device developed at the University of Rochester can take
high-resolution images under the skin’s surface without removing the skin. Researchers
say that it may eliminate the need for many skin cancer biopsies. Images courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University of Rochester.
To eliminate the need for an MRI, Rolland developed a small device
that can image a suspicious mole right in the doctor’s office. The liquid
lens of the setup, which was created specifically for optical coherence microscopy,
is based on a droplet of water that changes shape when the electrical field surrounding
it is altered and causes the focus of the lens to change. The probe can take thousands
of pictures focused at different depths below the skin’s surface.
A close-up of the prototype device.
Combining the images captured with the liquid lens, the scientists
created fully in-focus images of human skin tissue up to 1 mm deep, including important
tissue structures. Because the method uses near-IR light instead of ultrasound,
the images are produced with micron-scale, rather than millimeter-scale, resolution.
Rolland has successfully tested the process in vivo on human skin,
and several papers in peer-reviewed journals have been published. The next step
is to start using it in clinical research environments to assess its ability to
discriminate between different types of lesions.