Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a set of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. Examples include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. In the U.S. alone some one million people suffer with one type of the disease.
Current medical procedures for diagnosing the disease are inexact (based on a mix of clinical, radiologic and pathological methods). To overcome this researchers have developed a custom-developed endoscope based on a type of chemical-fingerprinting method called Raman spectroscopy. The technique allows medics to screen for molecular markers in the colon. Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique used to observe vibrational, rotational and other low-frequency modes in a system.
The sensor if fitted to a probe and it can be used in a standard colonoscopy exam. The probe can not only be used for diagnosis but also for assessing the effects of follow-up treatment. The probe can distinguish between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Discussing the development with Controlled Environments, Anita Mahadevan-Jansen of Vanderbilt University, who led the research, explains, “we decided to use a light-based method to probe the biochemistry of what’s going on in the colon. Our goal is to use Raman spectroscopy to look at the actual inflammatory signals.”
The probe was developed by running multiple tissue samples, followed by animal models, designed to identify appropriate biomarkers and spectral signatures. This was followed by a pilot test where the device tested using 15 patients, each of whom had an existing diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and eight patients with ulcerative colitis. In addition, eight healthy volunteers were used as a control. The results were reproducible and showed an appropriate level of sensitivity.
The research is published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express. The research is titled “Clinical characterization of in vivo inflammatory bowel disease with Raman spectroscopy.”