Kenneth Tichauer, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering: We’re working on a project that we’ve called the ADEPT Imager. Our first application of this imager is to improve the detection of cancer spread in patients with breast cancer. Physicians are often faced with this very important decision of whether or not to give a patient chemotherapy, systemic chemotherapy, after they’ve surgically removed the primary cancer or they’ve completed the mastectomy. The decision currently is based on whether or not cancer has spread to lymph nodes that are draining the primary tumor. So what the ADEPT system is actually able to do is, very quickly, we think within 10 minutes, map the location of cancer in the whole 3-D volume of the lymph node.
Jovan Brankov, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Advanced X-ray Imaging Laboratory: The outcome of the project of the imaging system, the ADEPT system, is not only relevant for breast cancer patients, it has a big application in drug development. Cancers are not one type of cells; they are like heterogeneous or different type of cancers developing within one cancer. And the drugs that are currently used usually target, or they are developed to target, one type of cancer cells. Where this system can also help to determine is what type of cells they have, the cancer they have, what is the mixture, how many of them they have, what is the percentage. And then instead of giving them one drug, they might be receiving multiple of them so that all of the cancers types are targeted.
Tichauer: Our estimate is that approximately 40,000 women will be properly diagnosed as stage 3 metastatic cancer where in the past they would have been misdiagnosed as stage 2 non-metastatic. And so they’ll be able to get critical life-saving chemotherapy earlier when it can be more effective.