Ultra Compact Fiber-Optic Endoscope for Optical Interrogation of Targeted Depths Within Tissue for the Early Cancer Detection and Surveillance

Background Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States; early detection is the key to treatment. In humans, 85% of all cancer originates in the epithelial tissue, including the esophagus, colon, lung, bladder, and cervix. There is currently no way to detect and locate these cancers in vivo until they have developed into a visible lesion, at which time they may have already metastasized and spread. The rise in cancer in the industrialized world has resulted in an increasing acceptance of invasive biopsy devices. In fact, biopsy with histopathological analysis is considered the gold standard for diagnosing various forms of cancer.

Traditional invasive biopsy can be painful, inaccurate, and time consuming. Although nearly 80 percent of biopsies turn out to be benign, there is usually no other way to determine whether or not the abnormality is cancer. Optical imaging is a new modality which is inexpensive, robust, and portable. The inexpensive optical sensors that could be enabled by the present invention could benefit health care by reducing the number of unnecessary invasive biopsies, as well as by enabling combined diagnosis and therapy.

Invention Description The invention from The University of Texas at Austin and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers provides a design for a fiber optic probe to collect optical signals from sub-layers within the superficial epithelial tissue and underlying stroma. Recent advances in the understanding of the alterations in tissue optical properties during carcinoma development have identified distinct differences between the epithelium and the underlying stroma. This suggests that separate interrogation of epithelial and stromal layers may improve the ability to distinguish dysplasia and carcinoma from normal mucosa and benign conditions.

This compact endoscope would allow in vivo interrogation of many organ sites for the presence of early-stage cancer. The device can be used as an accessory to standard endoscopes and needle biopsies to detect cancerous cells or to guide biopsies and monitor treatment (such as photothermal therapy). The device may also have other applications beyond cancer where optical interrogation of depths within the first 1 mm of tissue is important, such as in dermatology.


Optical interrogation of multiple depths within the epithelium can improve detection of early-stage cancers. The probe can be used in many organ applications accessible by standard endoscopes. Complete interrogation of the epithelial surface can facilitate targeted guidance of tissue biopsy, resulting in shorter endoscopy procedures. Simplicity of design enables inexpensive fabrication and thus low costs.


Fiber optics configured to measure optical signals from multiple depths Compact fiber optic probe design Rapid optical measurement with real-time diagnostic feedback Design works for both reflectance spectroscopic and fluorescence measurements

Market Potential/Applications Given that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, the market potential for this technology could be very large. If devices employing the invention are able to demonstrate earlier detection of cancer in epithelial tissue, improved patient outcomes would be expected, thus driving demand for such devices and procedures.

Development Stage Lab/bench prototype

IP Status One U.S. patent application filed

UT Researcher Konstantin V. Sokolov, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Linda T. Nieman, Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Type of Offer: Licensing

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