Using holographic capsule technology to develop a test for oesophageal cancer

Principal Investigator: Dr George Gordon, Department of Engineering

Co-Investigator: Professor Tim Wilkinson, Department of Engineering

Funded by: CRUK Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme Pump Priming Awards 2016

Half a million cases of oesophageal cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year and the prognosis is poor, with just a 15% survival rate. This is partly because the potential for early detection is limited, which is in turn because large-scale screening is limited by the high operational cost of endoscopy and the limited sensitivity of the current standard, white light endoscopy.

We propose to develop a novel capsule endoscope that is both low-cost and sensitive to variations in reflected optical phase and polarisation caused by microstructural changes in tissue during early malignant transformation. Capsule endoscopes are inherently cheaper to operate than traditional endoscopes because they can be swallowed by the patient without requiring anaesthesia and are manoeuvred by natural peristalsis or a tether. They can therefore be administered in local clinics by a GP or nurse, instead of by a specialist endoscopist in an operating theatre, making large-scale screening feasible.