Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Method and Instrumentation for the Optical Detection of Disease in Pancreatic Tissue

Technology #4086

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Mary-Ann Mycek
Patent Protection
US Patent 8,239,139
US Patent 8,234,078
US Patent Pending
US Patent 8,694,266
Probing pancreatic disease using tissue optical spectroscopy
J Biomed Opt, Volume 12. Page 060501. 2007


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma has a five-year survival rate of only 5%, making it the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the US. Current diagnostic procedures are unable to diagnose the disease in its early stages, diagnosis is compromised due to an overlap of symptoms with pancreatitis. As a result, as many as 9% of patients undergo complicated surgery to remove a significant portion of their pancreas, only to reveal absence of the disease during pathological examination of the resected specimen. Clearly, early detection of the disease and differentiation from pancreatitis would greatly reduce the instances of unnecessary surgery, and more importantly, improve the chances of patient survival.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have used the multi-modal optical spectroscopy to detect signals from pancreatic tissue to aid in early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. In human pancreatic tissues, measurements were associated with endogenous fluorophores NADPH and collagen; larger relative collagen content was detected in adenocarcinoma and pancreatitis tissues, as compared to normal pancreatic tissue. In addition, correspondence was observed between spectra from adenocarcinoma and cancer xenograft tissues, whereby the adenocarcinoma had higher reflectance in a given wavelength range compared to normal and pancreatitis tissues. The observed significant differences between fluorescence and reflectance properties of normal, pancreatitis, and adenocarcinoma tissues present an opportunity for future statistical validation on a larger patient pool and indicate a potential application of multimodal optical spectroscopy to differentiate between diseased and normal pancreatic tissue states.

Applications and Advantages


  • Diagnostics of pancreatic cancer


  • Early diagnosis
  • Reduces the need for unnecessary surgery