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Adam P. Wax, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2014
For outstanding contributions in the development of novel optical technologies for sensing and imaging in biological and medical applications.

Light Can Detect Pre-Cancerous Colon Cells

Via Duke Engineering | October 10, 2011

After demonstrating that light accurately detected pre-cancerous cells in the lining of the esophagus, Duke University bioengineers turned their technology to the colon and have achieved similar results in a series of preliminary experiments.

This technology could be a non-invasive way for physicians to detect abnormal cells, or dysplasia, which have the potential of turning cancerous. These cells are in the epithelium, or lining, of various tissues, including the esophagus and colon.

Current biopsy techniques require physicians to take many random tissue samples, and for some disorders of the colon, these procedures can be disfiguring and life-changing. Instead of taking tissue samples, the new system would aim short bursts of light from the tip of an endoscope at locations suspected of having disease.

“When light is directed at these tissues, it scatters,” said Adam Wax, Theodroe Kennedy associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, who developed the device. The results of the Duke team’s preliminary experiments were reported online in the Journal of Biomedical Optics. “We can collect and analyze that scattered light looking for the tell-tale signs of dysplasia. Significantly, the technique is noninvasive so no tissue is taken and no dyes or contrast agents are needed.”

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Detecting Esophageal Cancer with Light

Via Duke Today | January 4, 2011

A tiny light source and sensors at the end of an endoscope may provide a more accurate way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the lining of the esophagus.

Developed by biomedical engineers at Duke University and successfully tested on patients during a clinical trial at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the device holds the promise of being a less invasive method for testing patients suspected of having Barrett’s esophagus, a change in the lining of the esophagus due to acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid splashes, or refluxes, up into the esophagus.

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