A hyperspectral imaging technique uses a set of camera filters with a standard endoscopy system to increase the number of colors that can be seen during endoscopy and potentially improve the ability to detect abnormal cells in the lining of the gut. Researcher Sarah Bohndiek from the University of Cambridge explains the new technique. "In traditional endoscopy, we use white light and detectors that replicate our eyes, which detect light in red, green and blue color channels. We are now developing an approach called 'hyperspectral imaging,' which will increase the number of color channels that can be visualized from three to over 50." "Since cell changes associated with the development of cancer lead to color changes in the tissues, we believe that hyperspectral imaging could help us to improve the specificity of lesion identification because we can use these colors to identify abnormal tissues," said Bohndiek. The research team has developed a small, low-cost, robust fluorescence hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system that has been used to image a range of dyes in realistic tissue backgrounds. Currently available instruments for HIS can be bulky and expensive, making them challenging to use in clinical settings. "We believe our new fluorescence HSI system, which could be readily incorporated into standard clinical endoscopies, brings the diagnostic power of hyperspectral imaging one step closer to being used for the rapid detection of early cancerous changes within the GI tract," said Bohndiek. In contrast to the human eye, which sees color primarily in three bands (red, green and blue), HSI divides the color spectrum into many more bands and can be extended beyond the visible range of light. The images obtained by HSI can provide information about the physiology and chemical composition of human tissues. The technique is emerging as having great potential for noninvasive diagnosis and image-guided surgery. "Hyperspectral imaging is a powerful tool that can reveal the chemical composition of human tissues and together with different fluorescent dyes, can identify a range of biological processes," said Bohndiek. "The technique has many potential applications within cancer diagnostics, with exciting developments already reported in the detection of Barrett's esophagus, which is a precancerous condition in some people." The technique was presented at UEG Week Vienna 2016 (Advanced diagnostics for individualized medicine: seeing is believing).