MIB – Multi-modal, Endoscopic Biophotonic Imaging of Bladder Cancer for Point-of-Care Diagnosis

Doctors and engineers develop better cancer treatment

DTU and Frederiksberg Hospital are heading a European research project, where engineers and medical doctors develop new instruments for detecting bladder cancer. The concept may provide faster and better treatment and large savings for hospitals.

Over the next five years, a research team consisting of engineers and medical doctors will be developing new instruments and combine optical methods for imaging the bladder wall in patients with bladder cancer in routine endoscopic examinations.

The goal is to ensure that medical doctors in a matter of seconds may obtain a detailed picture of how deep the cancer cells are growing into the bladder wall, which allows starting of treatment of the bladder cancer immediately. It ensures a shorter, less expensive, and less harmful course of treatment. Today, patients are waiting for up to five working days to have their tissue analysed under a microscope. This means that it will take a couple of weeks before they start treatment.

Better, faster, and sooner

The concept allows that a proportion of patients may be treated as outpatients without hospitalization and full anaesthesia. “It gives patients greater quality of life and will save Danish hospitals more than DKK 100 million over a five-year period,” says Peter E. Andersen, Senior Researcher at DTU Fotonik:

“The project is a large technical-scientific challenge; it requires a new combination of optical methods to be used on the same endoscope. The hope is that we can bring the technology into play and ultimately diagnose and treat bladder cancer better, faster, and sooner than so far. It will be ground-breaking. Not only will we help patients to a quicker recovery, but we will also reduce public healthcare costs considerably.”

Technology improves treatment

DTU Fotonik is heading the project ‘Multi-modal, Endoscopic Biophotonic Imaging of Bladder Cancer for Point-of-Care Diagnosis’ (MIB), which consists of a consortium with ten partners. The project has been awarded a grant of 6 million € from Horizon 2020, which is the EU’s support programme for research and innovation.

The project is one of several where DTU conducts research within health technology which improves diagnostics and treatment and reduces costs. In this EU project, researchers from DTU Fotonik develop, among other things, optical technology such as compact light sources, high-speed imaging, and endoscopes.

Engineers work together with medical doctors

The technology must be tested on patients by Gregers G. Hermann, Consultant at the Department of Urology at Frederiksberg Hospital. Dr Hermann has identified a great need and opportunity to find a faster method for optical diagnosis of bladder cancer:

“We have been working closely with DTU researchers over the past five years, and this cooperation is essential to the project. When you understand each other’s mindset, you can easily utilize each other’s ideas. It will be a kind of symbiosis of which we are expecting a lot. Therefore, we will recommend that engineers increasingly assist us in our work in the future.”

Today, bladder cancer is one of the most expensive diseases to treat in the western world. The project team hopes that the concept in the long term can be applied to diagnosing colon cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, oesophageal cancer, and lung cancer

Who’s who in the EU project?

The project comprises researchers from one hospital, two universities, three research institutions, and four small and medium-sized businesses.

  •  DTU
  • Capital Region of Denmark, Department of Urology, Frederiksberg Hospital
  • Medical University of Vienna
  • Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
  • Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology
  • Institute of biological and medical imaging, Helmholtz (Munich)
  • Blazejewski Medi-Tech GmbH
  • Grintech GmbH
  • 2M Engineering
  • M Squared Lasers Ltd