"Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, taking an enormous toll on the society. Early detection is paramount for effective treatment. Afterwards, to individualize and optimize the treatment regime, it is increasingly becoming evident that early and frequent monitoring of the evolution of the tumour physiology in response to treatment is needed. Optical tools are emerging as promising modalities to this end. We will take advantage of this ability to carry out a pilot study to investigate the possibility of extending the use of diffuse optical methods to aid thyroid cancer characterization and therapy monitoring. Thyroid nodules are very common (~27% in adults) and a considerable amount of these, about 5%, develop into cancers. Unfortunately, the sensitivity and specificity of currently used technique for detection of potentially malignant nodules, thyroid ultrasound (US)-guided biopsies, is poor, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. We believe that optical methods will improve this. Furthermore, malignant tumours usually attract the formation of new and chaotic blood vessels via a complex process called angiogenesis. This has been exploited by the development of numerous treatment methods that rely on the inhibition of angiogenesis. However, it has also been observed that despite initial successful inhibition of angiogenesis, tumours may adapt and regain angiogenesis so that they can grow again. We will investigate this onset of tumour resistance by developing a novel, new 3D optical scanner for diffuse optical spectroscopy (DOS) and diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) in mouse models. If we are successful, we would advance the frontiers on basic understanding of cancer biology and explore new clinical applications of optical technologies."
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