My research has recently focused on high resolution, in vivo optical imaging (optical biopsy), a technique which allows us to image human tissue at a cellular level in real time. It relies on miniaturised microscope probes, built using fibre optic technology, which are small and flexible enough to be passed along the instrument channel of an endoscope, or to be introduced via a needle. These probes can then be used to display a live microscope video-feed to the operator.
Optical biopsy is an alternative to the conventional approach to high resolution tissue imaging (histology), where small amounts of tissue are extracted from the patient during a biopsy procedure and sent to a laboratory to be viewed under a bench-top microscope. The advantage of endomicroscopy is that, instead of waiting hours or days for a report from the histopathology lab, clinicians can see the results immediately.
While at Imperial College, I worked as part of a team on an EPSRC funded project, led by Prof Guang-Zhong Yang, which aimed to develop technological improvements in endomicroscopy to aid more widespread clinical adoption. In particular, we worked on methods for improving the image resolution and field of view, enabling us to characterise larger areas of tissue. I developed high frame rate endomicroscopes (120 fps) which offer depth sectioning using the line scanning technique, allowing us to better assemble mosaics (i.e. stitch together images) even when the endomicroscope probe is moved rapidly across the tissue. We also showed that we can enhance the optical sectioning to near that of a point-scanning confocal endomicroscope using a two-step technique. I also developed white light endomicroscopes, as well as working with colleagues, particularly Siyang Zuo, Petros Giataganas, Lin Zhang, and Chris Payne to integrate robotics and other smart technology with endomicroscopy imaging probes. We particularly focused on applications in breast conserving surgery, with a recent study led by Khushi Vyas and an older study led by Tou Pin Chang clearly demonstrating the potential.