Michelson Diagnostics targets malignant melanoma using OCT imaging with €2.3M EU funding
Michelson Diagnostics, the UK based medical device company focused on multi-beam Optical Coherence Tomography (‘OCT’) technology, announces that the European Union has awarded a €2.26 million Framework 7 grant to a consortium of seven partners, towards the cost of a project targeting malignant melanoma with OCT imaging.
Using Michelson Diagnostics’ OCT imaging system, VivoSight, the project, named 'ADVANCE' (Automatic Detection of VAscular Networks for Cancer Evaluation), aims to demonstrate that multi-beam OCT imaging can be used to assess the aggressiveness of melanomas quickly and efficiently. Michelson Diagnostics is the lead partner in the ADVANCE project.
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer, killing over 20,000 people per year in Europe alone [Source: GLOBOCAN 2008]. The incidence of melanoma is increasing, especially in young women, which is thought to be due to increasing exposure to the sun and UV light .
VivoSight already enables clinicians to non-invasively view all the layers of the skin in much greater detail than is possible with other technologies, potentially revolutionising how dermatologists make diagnostic and treatment decisions.
VivoSight scanners will be used to collect real-time, high definition images of melanomas, which will be analysed to detect vessels that supply them, and then displayed to the clinicians as 3D maps of the vessels surrounding the tumours. Cancers induce the development of new vessels to support their growth, and detection of these abnormal vessel patterns will enable clinicians to distinguish between tumours that are potentially metastatic, from those that are at an earlier stage.
Michelson Diagnostics is developing the core vessel detection algorithms, and collaborating with two industrial partners in the development of the new technology. EG Technology Ltd of Cambridge, based in the UK, will support further hardware design of the OCT scanner, and Technology Partnership doo, based in Belgrade, Serbia, will support the development of the visualization software.
Michelson Diagnostics is also teaming up with the following clinicians who will clinically evaluate the results:
- Prof. Dr. Julia Welzel, M.D. of General Hospital Augsburg, Dept. of Dermatology, Germany
- Prof. Dr. Gregor Jemec of Roskilde Hospital, Roskilde Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
- Prof. Dr. Giovanni Pellicani of Department of Dermatology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
- Dr. Martina Ulrich of CMB Collegium Medicum Berlin, Germany
Jon Holmes, Chief Executive Officer of Michelson Diagnostics, said: “We are delighted to be the lead partner in the ADVANCE project. We believe this will be a significant development in the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of diseases and conditions that affect the skin. The capability to provide images of fine blood vessels in skin is likely to have many other clinical applications, such as monitoring treatment of inflammatory diseases and wound healing.”
Dr Martina Ulrich said: “This is the first technology available that can visualize the 3D vascular network in and around the skin tumours within the tissue, in-vivo and in real time”
Dr Pellacani said: “This device should enable us to not only identify the tumour, but also its stage of development and predicts its aggressiveness.”
Professor Dr Julia Welzel said: “The availability of this scan could revolutionise melanoma treatment; by reducing the number of patients with early stage melanomas who unnecessarily undergo expensive invasive procedures performed under general anaesthesia, and also helping to definitively detect metastatic melanomas requiring urgent treatment much more quickly, potentially saving lives."
Professor Gregor Jemec said: “This is a promising new way of approaching skin cancer diagnosis which opens new avenues for both diagnosis and monitoring treatment.”
 P. Boniol M Fau - Autier, P. Autier P Fau - Boyle, S. Boyle P Fau - Gandini, and S. Gandini, "Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis," 20120726 DCOM- 20121011.
About Michelson Diagnostics and the VivoSight System
Michelson Diagnostics has developed a world-leading, patented, medical imaging technology, known as multi-beam Optical Coherence Tomography (‘OCT’), that uses an advanced laser scanner to ‘see’ into tissue with unprecedented image resolution and quality of image. Multi-beam OCT has many potential clinical applications, but we are currently focusing on dermatology.
Our vision is for our VivoSight OCT system to become the standard of care for the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of certain diseases and conditions that affect cutaneous and epithelial linings of the body. We currently generate revenues from our first commercial application of VivoSight, which is in the diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC).
VivoSight has regulatory clearance in Europe, USA and Australia, for use by trained clinicians in their assessment of the patient’s medical condition. We have launched VivoSight in Germany where the VivoSight scan is reimbursed for patients with private healthcare insurance.
The Company, based in Orpington, Kent, was founded in 2006 and has 18 employees. It has sales offices in Germany and USA. It has been supported through funding from a syndicate of Venture Capital, corporate and private investors including Octopus, Catapult Ventures and Angel Investors.
For more information about Michael Diagnostics, see www.michelsondiagnostics.com.
About ADVANCE (Automatic Detection of VAscular Networks for Cancer Evaluation)
ADVANCE will implement, optimise and validate the use of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scanners in the setting of dermatology clinics, to improve the diagnosis and treatment of malignant melanoma. OCT is already an established clinical tool for the diagnosis and management of the less lethal non-melanoma skin cancer, but so far is not used for melanoma. Recently a key advance in OCT development has been made, enabling the extraction and visualization of vascular networks. Cancers grow blood vessels, and the pattern of growth is diagnostic, and the amount of growth has major implications for the treatment regime and prognosis.
ADVANCE will focus on developing the clinical methodology to utilise this valuable information to improve the clinical outcomes for melanoma patients and ultimately to reduce both the mortality rate from this terrible disease and to improve the cost-effectiveness of the treatment: The potential benefits are thousands of lives and Millions of € per year. ADVANCE will validate this innovative technique against other modalities for measuring and imaging vasculature, and will also correlate the results with the existing gold standards for melanoma assessment (histology, sentinel lymph node biopsy etc.), with the objective of refining both the clinical methods and the equipment to the point where, at the endpoint of the project, a clinical trial could be started.
ADVANCE brings together the leading manufacturer of OCT scanners for dermatology (SME Michelson Diagnostics Ltd), and four clinical partners with extensive expertise in melanoma and skin imaging, and including both hospital clinics (University Hospitals of Augsburg, Copenhagen and Modena) and a CRO/private practice in Berlin. All have previous OCT imaging experience. This 'dream team' of leading European organisations will bring the vision of saving lives from the terrible disease of melanoma a major step closer.