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This is Professor JaeYoun Hwang (right) and PhD Student Jihun Kim (left) of Information & Communication Engineering. (Credit: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST))

A research team of Information and Communication Engineering at DGIST has developed the world's first multimodal biomicroscopic system to analyze the characteristics of tumors and to utilize them in tumor treatment technology research.

The research team has developed an imaging system that accurately analyzes the characteristics of tumors using the mechanical, chemical, and structural properties of colorectal cancer through the joint research with the research team of Eunjoo Kim from the Department of Nano & Energy Research.

Histopathologic examination of the removed tumor during surgery is an important procedure in the cancer surgical procedure. In particular, if a very small tumor is left on the operation site, it acts as a main cause of cancer recurrence or metastasis. Therefore, it is necessary to accurately analyze the removed tumor to find out whether cancer remains in the surgical site.

In order to analyze the present tumor, it is necessary to send a resected tumor to a pathologist to examine the specimen with a microscope to determine whether the resected cancer tissue is appropriately acquired and whether additional resection of the tissue during surgery is necessary. However, this process is time consuming and the results may be different depending on internal and external factors.

To overcome these disadvantages, optical microscope or ultrasonic wave were used. However, it was difficult to perform close inspection as they were unable to analyze the deep part of each tissue, or the resolution was poor.

Professor Hwang's research team has developed a converged biomicroscope based on high frequency ultrasound and optical spectroscopy to overcome the disadvantages of the imaging systems previously developed for tumor analysis.

Multimodal biomicroscopic system is capable to perform pathologic analysis simultaneously to detect the surface of resected tissues and tumors deep in the tissues during the cancer operation by converging optical multispectral imaging, high-frequency ultrasound B-mode, and high-frequency ultrasound radiation imaging techniques.

Tissue and tumor areas can be analyzed more precisely than a general fluorescence microscope as the optical spectroscopic imaging technique quantitatively analyzes the spectroscopic indicators emitted from the tissue surface. It is possible to detect deep tissue as well as tumor areas highly accurately with High Frequency Ultrasonic B-mode and High Frequency Ultrasonic Radiation Force Imaging Technique as they enable to image the impedance and elasticity of inside yin-yang the tissue at higher resolution than the existing ultrasonic imaging technique.

Through the experiment, the research team has proved that multimodal biomicroscopic system enables mechanical, chemical, and structural analysis of the tumor tissue from colon cancer patients at the high resolution from the surface to the deep of the tumor.

Professor Hwang said "We have developed a multimodal biomicroscopic system based on high-frequency ultrasound and optical spectroscopy for the first time in the world. It complements the disadvantages of the existing image analysis systems. We will conduct further studies to develop this system to the endoscope system which can be used for clinical diagnosis of cancer before the actual surgery."

The result of this study shows that the multimodal biomicroscopic system has the potential to qualitatively investigate the characteristics of incised tumors in vitro. The multimodal biomicroscopic system is expected to improve the efficiency and success rate of cancer surgery by increasing the accuracy of tumor removal surgery as well as shortening the operation time.

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