University of Arizona electrical and computer engineering

Volume Holographic Imaging System for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer Reaches Milestone

Raymond Kostuk and his research team have developed a bench-top version of an instrument capable of detecting ovarian cancer, a disease often referred to as the “silent killer” because it presents no symptoms until it is highly advanced.
 Raymond Kostuk and one of his grad students, Isela Howlett, test the new bench-top imaging instrument for ovarian cancer.

The bench-top version of the volume holographic  imaging system, which shows promise for detecting ovarian cancer in situ, uses specialized holographic components in a microscope to generate images capable of detecting subtle tissue microstructure changes as well as fluorescent bio-chemical signatures.

Working with Dr. Kenneth Hatch, of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, and his consenting patients, as well as researchers in the BIO5 Institute, Kostuk and his co-investigator Jennifer Barton, who now holds the position of associate vice president for research at the UA, have completed a study of cancerous and non-cancerous ovarian tissue in which the imaging system successfully identified abnormal spatial and spectral markers of cancerous ovarian tissue removed during surgery.

Now the research team is working on a miniature endoscopic version that further enhances imagery, achieves even greater contrast, and is capable of reliably diagnosing ovarian cancer in real time during noninvasive laparoscopic procedures and screenings.

“The instrument is cost effective, easy to use, and holds the promise of saving lives,” said Kostuk, who holds a joint appointment in the College of Optical sciences,

Only 45 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer live more than five years after diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Surviving ovarian cancer, which spreads quickly and is known to attack generations of women in genetically predisposed families, depends on early diagnosis. To date, there is no single effective screening test for ovarian cancer. Noninvasive imaging methods lack sufficient resolution to detect ovarian cancer, so surgically removing affected tissue is the only way to diagnose the rapidly progressive disease. The result is that more than 50 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in late stages of the disease.

The National Institutes of Health has provided significant funding for the research, and Kostuk is in the process of seeking renewed funding. Patents and invention disclosures have attracted the attention of several investment groups.

“Commercialization of the instrumentation may not be far off,” Kostuk said.

Design Project Gets Attention of TI Visionaries

Acclaim keeps coming for a 2013 University of Arizona College of Engineering Senior Design team that included two students in the electrical and computer engineering department: Melvin Barney and Brian Suarez. The two helped design an award-winning disposable, low-power blood glucose meter, and their team is now headed to Dallas to compete in the 2013 Texas Instruments Analog Design Contest.

Team Glucose is headed to Dallas for the Texas Instruments Analog Design Contest

"We designed a glucometer that is much more accurate than other glucometers on the market, and it has the ability to transmit the glucose readings to an iPhone," said Barney, who expects to graduate in December.
Glucometers help people with diabetes monitor and manage their blood glucose levels.

Team Glucose is among only 10 teams selected from 125 teams throughout the United States and Canada to compete during the July 21-23 Engibous Summit, named after TI’s former chairman and CEO, Thomas Engibous. The winning team will take home $10,000; second place $7,500, and third place $5,000. A "People’s Choice" award carries a $1,000 prize.

"Texas Instruments sponsors the Engibous Prize competition as a way to inspire engineering students and foster tomorrow’s innovators," said Art George, senior vice president and general manager of TI’s Analog Engineering Organization. "I’m impressed by the spirit of ingenuity the team demonstrated. It gives a great view into the exciting ways innovators like these can impact our world in the future."

Other members of Team Glucose include Ashley Anhalt (systems and industrial engineering), and Melissa Lim, Pooja Rajguru and Daniel Sweeney (biomedical engineering).

At the 2013 UA Engineering Design Day, the team won Most Innovative Systems Integration and Best Team Leadership. Team members also won first and second prizes in the Fish Out of Water category.

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