Instead of surgically removing a sample of skin, sending it to a lab and waiting several days for results, your dermatologist takes pictures of a suspicious-looking lesion and quickly produces a detailed, microscopic image of the skin.
This could become routine in clinics, the result of a new “virtual histology” technology being developed by researchers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, according to an article in Light: Science & Applications. Histology is the study of the microscopic structure of tissues.
“This process bypasses several standard steps typically used for diagnosis—including skin biopsy, tissue fixation, processing, sectioning and histochemical staining. Images appear like biopsied, histochemically stained skin sections imaged on microscope slides,” said the study’s senior author, Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor and Volgenau Chair for Engineering Innovation of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UCLA Samueli.
The technology, which has been in research and development for more than three years, may provide a new avenue for rapid diagnosis of malignant skin tumors, reducing the number of unnecessary invasive skin biopsies and allowing earlier diagnosis of skin cancer. Previously, this technology has only been applied to microscopy slides that contained unstained tissue, acquired through a biopsy. This report is the first to apply virtual histology to intact, unbiopsied tissue.
“The current standard for diagnosing skin diseases, including skin cancer, relies on invasive biopsy and histopathological evaluation. For patients, this often leads to unnecessary biopsies and scars as well as multiple visits to doctors. It also can be costly for patients and the health care system,” said Dr. Philip Scumpia, assistant professor of dermatology and dermatopathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital and a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our approach potentially offers a biopsy-free solution, providing images of skin structure with cellular-level resolution.”
Source: Healthcare in Europe