Innovative imaging system uses night vision technology to tackle common side effect of cancer treatment

April 04, 2016

The 19 patents and patent applications covering the system were previously held by a total of four separate academic institutions: Baylor College of Medicine, Purdue University, Texas A&M University and UTHealth. UTHealth recently assumed management of the entire portfolio. Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas A&M University System signed an agreement with UTHealth to make the consolidation of the patent portfolio a reality and to make the entire portfolio available for commercial development. During Sevick's five years with Texas A&M and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, she was granted several of these patents.

"This agreement provides a great example of local academic institutions working together to bundle intellectual property around an important, innovative technology to make it more attractive to commercial investment. We look forward to working with a commercial partner to get this technology into the clinic," said Bruce D. Butler, Ph.D., vice president for research and technology at UTHealth.

The system involves micro doses of fluorescent dyes and specially modified near infrared cameras. With the aid of the light sensitive cameras, Sevick and her colleagues can observe a fluorescent dye as it works its way through the lymphatic system, indicating valve behavior and flow dynamics. The fluorescent light emission can be seen through the skin by the camera.

In contrast to systems that use computed tomography (CT) scanners or positron emission tomography (PET) imagers, the cameras used in this system are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, Sevick said. Additionally, the contrast dyes used in this system are non-radioactive and can generate images at micro dosing levels. The ability to administer micro doses dramatically reduces the potential for side effects to the patient from the dyes and facilitates approval of the technology through the regulatory process, she said.

Sevick's group is developing further applications of this system for imaging of other diseases.

SOURCE University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston