UK researchers using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, or FTIR analysis, have produced an image of the cross section of a prostate at an incredibly high spatial resolution. According to an online article in Chemistry World, previously, only millimeter sized sections of tissue could be measured to a high enough degree of accuracy to produce a chemical map.
Looking at larger areas sacrificed spatial resolution, creating a loss of detailed information. As a result, smaller areas of tissue had to be sampled, meaning that scientists could potentially miss diagnostically important areas.
Hoping that their FTIR analysis technique will someday be turned into an automated system, Peter Gardner of the University of Manchester and colleagues foresee an FTIR analysis system that will grade and stage biopsy samples 24 hours a day by identifying certain chemical signatures.
Breakthrough with FTIR Analysis
Speaking about the breakthrough, Shaul Mordechai, an expert in optical diagnostics at Ben-GurionUniversity in Israel, stated that “an automated system could be constructed whereby the chemical image is initially classified into its constituent cell types, after which the epithelial cells can be classified as cancerous or non-cancerous. This work could be used to create an FTIR imaging system to assess early tumor diagnosis.”
FTIR analysis generates a spectrum that images a fingerprint of all the molecules present within a specific area of tissue. Advances in FTIR analysis and medical imaging means that, rather than a single spectrum from the tissue, many spectra can be pieced together to make a chemical map of the sample.
High Speed FTIR Analysis
The team hasn’t stopped there. In fact, they are speeding up the diagnostic process to the point where very large areas of tissue can be measured at the highest spatial resolution available.
Describing the process Gardner says, “Normally data collection, data readout and data pre-processing are carried out sequentially. Parallelizing these processes and optimizing each step has led to a huge gain in efficiency.” He adds, “Previously, using a conventional infrared microscope, it would have taken 125 years to collect 66 million spectra and, even using an off-the-shelf instrument with a large array detector, the same data would have taken 14 days. We have reduced this to just 14 hours.”
Benefits of using FTIR analysis for cancer detection are earlier tumor detection along with a faster, more accurate and less invasive procedure. FTIR analysis can also be used in manufacturing to determine the composition of materials. Unknown materials are identified by searching the spectrum against a database of reference spectra, similar to what the researchers are doing with human tissue.