North Carolina State University is seeking a commercial partner to license a novel method of measuring the properties of microvascular networks, an indication of the invasiveness of a tumor
A Tumor biopsy is presently required to determine the invasiveness of a tumor. For certain cancers, this can be in and of itself an invasive procedure, and only provides information on the part of the tumor that is excised. There is a delay for how long the biopsy will take to assess and to return information to the patient. These limitations of our present healthcare system can be addressed.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new method to determine the properties of microvascular networks, which are an indication of the invasiveness of a tumor. The principle of the technique is to induce multiple scattering of ultrasonic waves by ultrasound contrast agents (microbubbles) in vascular networks. Multiple scattering is undesirable for imaging, but can be taken advantage of to extract wave transport parameters that are characteristic of the microarchitecture of the population of scatterers. We use a conventional ultrasound linear array in an unconventional fashion. Instead of doing beamforming and conventional imaging, we have transmited ultrasound pulses in the MHz range (8 or 10 MHz), by firing the elements of the array one by one, and receive the backscattered signals on each element separately. We are currently experimenting with additional ranges for the ultrasound pulses. Doing so, we acquire an inter-elements matrix, which we use to extract the incoherent contribution to the backscattered signals. The incoherent contribution grows over time as a diffusive halo and its width is determined by the Diffusion constant D of the medium. From the diffusion constant, transport parameters such as the scattering and transport mean free path can be extracted. The novelty is that we do this in a medium populated by a distribution of ultrasound contrast agents (microbubbles) with a very low concentration, which are circulated in the blood flow.
This allows us to measure micro-architectural properties of microvascular networks, such as the vessel density, which is a very good indicator of the invasiveness of a tumor, because the architecture of angiogenesis is different in healthy and tumor tissues. When the probe is rotated over the vascular network, the transport and scattering mean free paths can be measured in various directions. This enables the assessment of the anisotropy of the vascular network, which is another marker of the tumor invasiveness.
- Detection of microvascular network for tumor invasiveness
- Detection of microvascular network for atherosclerosis
About the Lead Inventor
Dr. Marie Muller received her BS in Physics from the Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris, France in 2002, and her Ph.D. in Physical Acoustics from the Paris Diderot University in Paris, France in 2006. After a postdoctorate at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, she returned to Paris, as an Assistant Professor with the Institut Langevin. In 2014, she moved to North Carolina and joined the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at NCSU. She is also an associate Faculty with the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NCSU.