Lab-in-a-fiber for smart thermo-haptic treatment of tumors

Project: Research project

Project Description

LIFESTART is a multidisciplinary project that aims at disrupting mini-invasive interventional cancer care.
Thermal ablation (TA) is rapidly growing as an effective procedure for the selective treatment of a tumor, after it has been diagnosed and localized. Mini-invasive TA (MITA) is uses a miniaturized percutaneous applicator, positioned at the tumor center, to generate a spatially confined heat field, that brings cells to mortality stage. MITA shows the premises for becoming a prominent approach in cancer care, thanks to outpatient care and repeatability. However, it is currently approaching its technological limits, marginally improving over invasive surgery – due to the lack of tissue information at the sensing point and time invariant treatment. LIFESTART aims at disruptively innovating this scenario with hyper-dense sensing and a micro-robotic platform. Following the groundwork accomplished by the PI, who recorded first-ever pressure and temperature profiling in MITA, the project aims at establishes 3 cornerstones:
(1) LIFE-x: an optical fiber sensor “exploring” sensor, that combines the detection of temperature distribution (0.1 mm resolution), pressure, respiration, and a biosensor in the same fiber – mapping all biophysical and biological phenomena related to tumor ablation.
(2) μWatch: an optical micro-fiber sensor combining two temperature probes and a biosensor on a sub-micro scale, that will safeguard critical organs from ablation.
(3) Combining a plurality of LIFE-x and μWatch, with a fold-down catheterization installed on a MITA probe with robotic micro-actuators: it will be possible to realize the first-ever smart thermo-haptic ablation that combines sensing, stereotactic positioning, and returns a haptic feedback of ablation.
The ultimate goal of LIFESTART is to promote MITA as the default interventional cancer treatment, improving cancer care for patients, clinics, and society – breaking down the technological barriers for cancer
care.

Key findings

The possibility of using optical fiber temperature sensor with chirped FBG for measuring heat during thermal ablation was studied. We introduced a “thermal map” methodology, where we plot the temperature as a function of space and time, a tool that can support a clinician for interventional ablation.

Different setups have been prepared to perform ablation on phantoms: (1) Radiofrequency ablation (RFA); (2) microwave ablation (MWA); (3) Laser ablation with a pulsed laser (LA). We have also opened collaboration with Kazakhstan National Scientific Medical Center for an ultrasound-based ablation.RFA/MWA setups are based on a machine (Leanfa RFA-MWA) that embodies both ablation types. The benchmark for online thermometry applied to thermo-therapies is the application of all four types of ablation using optical fibers.

Refractive index sensor setups have been investigated. Two technologies have been considered and developed: (1) etched FBG (EFBG); (2) Tilted FBG (TFBG). EFBG have been fabricated by immersing a standard FBG in a chemical etchant that removes the fiber cladding. We engineered the fabrication of the sensor, by monitoring the change of Bragg wavelength during the fabrication time and performing microscopic analysis on the fiber during etching. Upon etching, the fiber increasingly gains sensitivity to external refractive index variations.

Interrogator based on widebroad spectra and spectrometer for detecting fiber optic sensors with the working range of 1520-1600nm was set up. At first, the assembling of a preliminary fiber-optic interrogator has been accomplished; it embeds a fiber-coupled broadband source (SLED-1550 nm) with its control board, a 3-dB coupler, a spectrometer with USB controller, power supply, and a ventilation system.The interrogator was assembled into a single, portable device, to allow the possibility of performing experiments in-house, or to external facilities.
In order to develop lab-in-a-fiber for smart thermo-haptic treatment of tumors, apart from tasks already implemented this year a number of tasks have to be executed.We need to
• control tissue properties during thermal ablation by building a feedback system with sensor, developing thermometry and building a distributed sensing system;
• develop a biosensor and particularly, study its fabrication by optimizing functionalization and analyte detection;
• develop a microstruturized sensor which will detect force/strain and the presence of bioanalyte;
• need to move thermal ablation from phantoms to a clinically relevant setup (work on the thermal ablation physics)

The social impact of the project appears to emerge as in Kazakhstan thermal ablation as a therapy for cancer treatment gains popularity. Collaborations have been established with the Presidential Hospital, Department of Endoscopy (headquartered in Astana Expo Area, Mangilik El) and Medical Research Center, Ultrasound Center, HIFU Department (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound), headquartered in Astana, Right Bank, Abylay Khan avenue. The research carried out at NU has been presented and shared with local clinics, in order to enable a successful technology transfer from laboratory to clinics, operating on phantoms.
AcronymLIFESTART
StatusActive
Effective start/end date3/1/1712/31/19

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Hot Temperature
Neoplasms