New optical imaging system to help find tiny tumors

Professor Angela Belcher is the senior author of a study that shows a new optical imaging system, named "DOLPHIN," which could enable researchers to find tiny tumors as small as a couple hundred cells deep within the body.

In this study, Belcher and a team of researchers used the DOLPHIN system to non-invasively track a 0.1-millimeter fluorescent probe through the digestive tract of a living mouse, which is something previous optical imaging techniques are not able to do. In tests with human tissue-mimics and animal tissue, they were also able to locate probes to a depth of up to 8 centimeters--deeper than any existing optical imaging technique. 

In ongoing work, the researchers are using a related version of this system to try to detect ovarian tumors at an early stage. They have also begun working on adapting it to detect other types of cancer such as pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and melanoma.