SAN ANTONIO – There's a group working to make a more efficient and effective way to detect cancer, and it's being developed right here in San Antonio.
The startup is called Echolase, and it is working with UT Health San Antonio to develop a probe beam deflection technology.
“When I was working in England the university had some expertise in using laser light,” said Saher Maswadi, who has a PhD in physics biomedical optics.
Maswadi, Nikolay Akimov and Dr. Randolph Glickman are Echolase, the group working on the probe beam deflection technology.
“An optical acoustic technologies, or photo acoustic they call it, is whenever you sense some light and it gets sounds. It's become very popular for imaging, especially for tumor imaging, and the personalization of vessels foreign body imaging,” Maswadi said.
By using a series of lights and sounds, the tech is effectively able to detect what’s going on inside the human body.
“What we do here is we're imaging with only a single laser now which makes the system much less expensive and easier to build. And because we have non-contact detection we achieve higher resolution and there is no ringing, making the image much cleaner than a conventional system,” said Akimov, who has a masters degree from the Moscow State University department of physics and masters degree in biophysics.
The lasers and the tech might seem complicated, but simply it's a device that can be more efficient in detecting cancer than what is being used in hospitals now.
“In breast cancer detection we can detect blood vessels growing into this tissue before it can be detected by a conventional ultrasound system which can only detect calcified tumors,” said Akimov.
The device they built won't have X-ray radiation so it reduces risks, and it's much clearer than current options.
“You can see the image you get on the screen of the system. So those three beads you detecting, you can see many artifacts of ultrasound and the resolution is in general much lower,” said Akimov.
This is just the prototype, Echolase has plans for a much more compact product; as for the laser technique, this could just be the start.
“I would describe our technology as a platform technology in that it's very versatile and can be applied to quite a few different applications,” said Glickman.
These applications can be useful for our defense department.
“What I see that would be a great use for the military is foreign body detection. A lot of the shrapnel that's used today men are designed to be hard to find and X-ray plastic projectiles. And so our technology I can see that ours could really address that very well,” Glickman said.
The probe beam deflection technique can also be used in fighting innovative weaponry.
“And the military is very concerned about what are called directed energy weapons which include lasers and radio frequency microwave imaging weapons. And so this is going to require a whole new class of diagnostic devices to really address that these casualties that are inevitably coming down the line,” Glickman said.
It can even be used locally in solving crimes.
“The gunshot application would depend on the ability of this detection system to indicate the direction of the sound and that distinguishes this detector from other types of detectors that are conventionally used,” Glickman said.
Echolase is already looking toward the next step.
“I mean seriously, I think our goal is to raise between $500,000 and a million dollars,” Glickman said.
“If we'd go full-time, all of us building this system we can engineer it within the year. FDA approval is gonna take longer,” Akimov said.
If you're interested in investing in Echolase, learning more about the technique and the applications, click here.