Robot platform facilitates improved cancer diagnosis

24 October 2023 11:11

Zurich CCGreater Zurich

Zurich - Two researchers from Zurich-based universities have developed a robot platform for more accurate diagnosis of cancer cells. For this, a digital 3D image of the tissue is created, on which the cancer cells are marked.

Francesca Catto from the University of Zurich and Robert Axelrod from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have developed a digital histology solution, further details of which can be found in a press release issued by ETH Zurich. This could ultimately replace a method that has been used for 100 years, in which layers of tissue that are seven times thinner than a human hair are cut open and examined under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer.

Using an approach that combines technologies from biomedicine and mechanical engineering, the two researchers have built a robotic platform that can more accurately diagnose cancer and provides three-dimensional information about the spatial arrangement of cells.

According to the press release, this is a four-step process. First, the researchers make the tissue sample transparent in an automated manner. Next, they mark or color any conspicuous cells. In the third step, an image of the 3D tissue is created where cancer cells are mapped, with the final step involving an analysis using 3D imaging software and training algorithms.

According to ETH Zurich, the innovation of this solution is that it no longer requires tissue samples to be prepared and cut. The tissue, for example a lymph node, is preserved as a whole and is examined in its entirety. The digital 3D visualization with the marked cells is accessible at any time via the Internet.

However, the platform is not yet completely ready for the market, as Axelrod explains. While it is certainly possible for the researchers to offer initial services by making tissue samples transparent in an automated way and producing a labelled 3D image, the software still needs to be optimized. Catto and Axelrod are aiming to bring their development to market by founding a start-up. ce/gba 

Swiss Pavilion Digital

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