Jena (UKJ). The project, called CHARM and coordinated by Cambridge Raman Imaging (CRI), aims to develop a medical device based on high-speed, low-cost Raman digital imaging technology and artificial intelligence to transform cancer diagnosis and treatment. The technology will analyse the molecular composition of patient tissue samples to distinguish cancerous from healthy cells without the need for chemical staining.
CHARM is a pan-European collaboration between CRI, the University of Cambridge, Italian institutions Politecnico Di Milano and Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, the Jena University Hospital in Germany, and the firms INsociety from Italy and Inspiralia from Spain. The project coordinator is Dr Matteo Negro, CRI’s Chief Technology Officer.
CHARM is one of the 42 projects selected for funding from 292 submitted in the first ever EIC Transition Challenges, intended to support moving technologies from laboratories into the real world. It aims to develop medical devices to the preclinical validation phase.
CHARM’s Raman imaging technology uses graphene-based ultra-fast fibre lasers to generate digital images of patient tissue for automatic analysis by artificial intelligence to support diagnosis. Because the images are digital, they can be viewed remotely, allowing histopathologists to work more efficiently and to support regions and countries short of qualified staff. The technology also potentially opens the way for personalised treatments for cancer.
The Jena team is the clinical partner in the project: "We provide CHARM with around 100 tissue samples pf patients with and without head and neck tumours and our pathological expertise. This represents the reference, on which the analysis and evaluation tool is configured and tested by using machine learning algorithms," says Prof. Dr Orlando Guntinas-Lichius, director of the ENT Clinic at Jena University Hospital. He leads the Jena work package, which was funded by 0.5 million euros. Initial tests to integrate the prototype into clinical workflows are intended, too. Prof. Guntinas-Lichius: "It is fascinating to be involved, both scientifically and as a user, in the development of a tool which supports clinical decisions to make therapy faster, safer and more individual."
The EIC is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations. Dr Matteo Negro, Cambridge Raman Imaging’s Chief Technology Officer and CHARM project coordinator, said: “We are proud to see our technology recognised by the EU as a potentially disruptive innovation, able to strongly support histopathologists in their clinical routine, by providing objective chemical information on tissues to improve cancer diagnosis accuracy and personalised treatment selection.