OncoRes Medical: Effective Real-time Assessment of Tissue Microstructure
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Breast cancer has the second-highest mortality rate of all cancers in women. In 2016 there were approximately 16,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Australia and about 250,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States. Surgical removal of the tumour is a central component of treatment, and the most common procedure is breast-conserving surgery which aims to remove the cancerous tissue while ensuring an excellent cosmetic outcome. Unfortunately, complete removal of the tumour is challenging, and a vital issue facing surgeons is the accurate, microscopic identification of tumour during surgery. Currently, a pathologist examines the removed tissue post-operatively. If there are cancer cells in the margin surrounding the removed tissue, the patient will require additional surgery to remove the residual tumour. As a result, approximately 25% of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery will require a second surgery to remove residual malignant tissue not removed in the initial operation.
Through its signature technology, OncoRes Medical is addressing this complex challenge by developing an intraoperative imaging technology that translates the surgeon's sense of touch into a microscale image. Effectively, the same intraoperative imaging technology will provide surgeons with real-time assessment of tissue microstructure along with enhanced surgical accuracy and reduced complication rates.
The patent-protected technology is currently under development in collaboration with leading researchers at the University of Western Australia and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and breast cancer surgeons at the Western Australian public health system. With funding provided by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), OncoRes Medical aims to develop the technology for use in clinical applications that require the real-time assessment of tissue microstructure. By collaborating with leading researchers at the University of Western Australia, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and breast cancer surgeons and pathologists from the Western Australian Department of Health, OncoRes believes it will succeed.
Interestingly, OncoRes has been selected to take part in the prestigious MedTech Innovator Accelerator program in the US, becoming the first-ever Australian company in the final 24 and making waves within the first few weeks after the company's inception.
The technology could make a “massive difference” to breast cancer sufferers
OncoRes' flagship technology uses a novel combination of optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and elastography to provide a rapid evaluation of tissue microarchitecture at a scale and resolution comparable to histology. Apart from this, OncoRes is developing an imaging solution to help cancer surgeons remove 100% of a tumour on the first try, initially focusing on breast cancer surgery. The technology is intended to reduce the risk of any parts of a tumour being left behind, and of patients having to undergo multiple surgeries. OnceRes' Chief Executive Officer, Dr Katharine Giles — who works as both an assistant surgeon and a venture capitalist — says the technology could make a "massive difference" to people living with breast cancer. "You would hope that would translate through the whole thing, and they would have a far better outcome than they would have had," adds Giles.
OncoRes is currently funded by $6 million secured from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund. The fund is backed by the Federal Government and Australian super-annuation funds, including AustralianSuper and HOSTPLUS. The technology was created by Christobel Saunders, who Giles commemorates as 'the most amazing breast cancer surgeon,' who teamed up with engineer Brendan Kennedy to create a tool that would solve the repeat-surgery problem. "They developed this technology that effectively translates the surgeons' sense of touch into a microscale image," concludes Dr Giles.
Description OncoRes Medical is developing an intraoperative imaging tool that translates the surgeon's sense of touch into a mircoscale image — improving surgical accuracy and reducing complication rates. Founded in 2016, OncoRes is a medical device company funded by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, developing patent-protected technology in collaboration with leading researchers at the University of Western Australia, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and breast cancer surgeons from the Western Australian Department of Health
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