TomoWave Combine Light And Sound To Develop New Diagnostic Imaging Technology

TomoWave Combine Light And Sound To Develop New Diagnostic Imaging Technology
TomoWave's Laser Optoacoustic Ultrasonic Imaging
System Assembly (LOUISA) for breast imaging. The
system is currently used in clinical trials at MD Anderson
Cancer Center. (Credit: TomoWave)
Medical imaging is crucial in a variety of medical settings, with effective decisions and treatments depending on correct diagnoses. While clinical judgement may be sufficient prior to treatment of many conditions, using diagnostic imaging is paramount in confirming, correctly assessing and documenting courses of many diseases, as well as in assessing responses to treatment. Effective, high quality imaging is also important for medical decision-making and can even reduce unnecessary procedures, for example surgical interventions.

The startup TomoWave Laboratories develop imaging technologies based on a combination of light and sound for visualization of anatomy and molecular composition of biological tissues. They call the concept optoacoustics or photoacousting imaging, which is based on technology by CEO and founder of TomoWave, Alexander Oraevsky. The method uses short laser pulses with dark red light to penetrate deep tissues. The absorption of laser energy by tissue and hemoglobin of red blood cells generate acoustic pressure waves, or ultrasound. By measuring these ultrasound waves at different locations, the system is able to reconstruct high-resolution tomographic images of internal tissue structures, potentially detecting and diagnosing many diseases, including cancer.

Current imaging technologies have significant drawbacks. X-rays expose patients to ionizing radiation, increasing the risk of cancer, while CT, MRI and PET use contrast agents that can be quite toxic. In addition, some of these technologies can be expensive and not affordable for small hospitals and clinics, limiting their reach. TomoWave fill the market need by providing a safe and inexpensive imaging technology, and because detectors and electronics used for optoacoustics and ultrasound are the same, it provide doctors with a modality that already make them comfortable. Because of this, the technology also fit smaller clinics, broadening the access of quality imaging and cancer diagnostics, while reducing the number of unnecessary invasive and expensive biopsies.

Although the commercialization of optoacoustics has been slow, it is now steadily gaining momentum. There is not only a strong research interest in the technology, but it is beginning to move out of the lab and into clinical application. With CEO and pioneer Alexander Oraevsky on the team, TomoWave is one of the frontrunners of the commercial emergence of optoacoustics.

The company’s clinical imaging system is in the commercialization process and currently in feasibility studies at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The startup was a finalist in the 2015 SPIE Prism Award in the category of biomedical instrumentation, and Alexander Oraevsky received the innovation prize from the Berthold Leibinger Foundation in 2014, a major award in the area of laser technologies.