Setup for mass spectroscopy as a referential method for biophotonic imaging based on Coherent...

CRIMSON - Coherent Raman Imaging for the Molecular Study of Diseases

The new European project CRIMSON builds on the participance of three partners from Jena.
Setup for mass spectroscopy as a referential method for biophotonic imaging based on Coherent...
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Published: 17 December 2020, 09:27 | By: Christian Helgert

Researchers from Jena want to learn a new type of microscopy technology and bring it to market with global work from research, medicine and industry. They should be part of tracking down the cell status, origins of cancer, and precision medicine. With this goal in mind, a European team involving Jena's Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz-IPHT), the Jena University Hospital (UKJ) and the Jena Laser company Active Fiber Systems started the transnational transdisciplinary research project CRIMSON. Together with further research institutes and companies from Italy, Great Britain and France, they aim to develop a biophotonic imaging device based on the future generation of coherent Raman microscopy for biomedical research. The system shall comprise traditional laser techniques as well as sophisticated biophotonic data analysis through artificial intelligence. The main impact of CRIMSON will be the development of a non-invasive, label-free optical microscopy-endoscopy tool, based on broadband CRS, for fast, quantitative and objective imaging of biological specimens like 2D/3D cells, tissue sections or organs, to determine their morphological and molecular nature (morphochemistry) with an unprecedented precision. The European Commission is funding the project for 42 months with more than 5 million euros.

The broadband Coherent Raman Scattering (CRS) microscope together with the tailor-made automated data analysis pipelines will allow to unravel new aspects of disease pathophysiology that were not accessible before or which required the combination of multiple sophisticated approaches like e.g. fluorescence staining approaches, OMICS etc. Within the framework of patient care, detailed knowledge of the molecular and pathophysiological background of a disease will help to treat those affected in a targeted personalized manner – without detour via “trial and error” – e.g. with the drug that is most suitable for them. For example, immunotherapy, which has become of great interest to researchers, clinicians and also pharmaceutical companies because of its promise to treat various forms of cancer, is currently only effective in <10% of the patients. Tumour response evaluation after/during immunotherapy takes months before the efficacy can be determined, which means that, in many patients, this expensive therapy is useless, while it can have important side effects. The novel broadband CRS imaging tool developed within CRIMSON will allow for a better tumour characterization for personalized immunotherapy on a cellular level. Overall, any improvement in understanding diseases on a molecular and cellular level will lead to more efficient and targeted therapy concepts (personalized precision medicine) and will have a significant benefit not only to patients, but also to the economic sustainability of the healthcare system as a whole.

CRIMSON will push forward CRS microscopy – so far mainly used to image single molecular vibrations in the chemically less sensitive CH-stretch wavenumber region – accessing the fingerprint region by establishing various novel photonic solutions (e.g. fast Fourier transform-CRS, innovative and compact laser sources etc.) in combination with tailor-made AI-aided data analysis platforms to shed new light on the pathogenesis of diseases. To highlight the unique potential of the developed CRS imaging platform for the study of diseases on a cellular and molecular level, CRIMSON addresses three different important biomedical case scenarios: (1) Understanding the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. (2) Understanding the interaction between head-and-neck tumor cells and immune cells. (3) Accurate assessment of senescence and tumor heterogeneity. We expect great international interest in the novel CRS imaging platform because the possibility to image cells, tissue and even organs quickly, with subcellular resolution and, most importantly, label-free and with molecular contrast, will lead to new insights in disease pathology, allowing for completely novel approaches towards personalised therapy.

link to the CRIMSON project website

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