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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N019318/1
Title: REBOT: Robotic Endobronchial Optical Tomography
Principal Investigator: Elson, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Shah, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr M Hughes
Project Partners:
Intel Corporation Ltd
Department: Computing
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2016 Ends: 31 January 2020 Value (£): 828,907
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip. Medical Imaging
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Nov 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25th and 26th November 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Lung cancer is a challenging disease to diagnose and treat, and is the most common cause of cancer death in both men and women worldwide. Five year survival rates remain poor at 9.0%, and on a global basis, the 2012 statistics suggest that lung cancer was responsible for 1.59 million deaths. A particular difficulty is that most lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, with about 75% of patients having advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. Identification of patients with lung cancer at an earlier stage is therefore vital if outcomes are to be improved.

CT screening can identify possible cancerous nodules in the lung, but biopsy and histology, in which a tissue sample is examined under a microscope, is then required for diagnosis. The standard procedure to extract the tissue sample is trans-thoracic biopsy, in which a needle is inserted through the chest wall, typically under CT image guidance. This provides good diagnostic results, but is associated with complications, especially pneumothoraces (collapsed lung) which occurs in 15% of cases. More recently, technical advances have allowed biopsy to be performed through a bronchoscope, reducing the risk of complications and allowing the procedure to be performed during routine examination sessions. However, success is highly operator dependent and for remote, small nodules, the diagnostic rate (the yield) is poor. This is due to a number of factors, including the complexity of the bronchial tree, patient motion due to breathing (particularly at distal segments), poor ergonomics, and the large diameter of bronchoscopes prohibiting access beyond fourth generation bronchial segments (the fourth level of 'splitting' in the bronchial tree).

The purpose of the REBOT project is to develop a robot-guided endobronchial probe that will allow access to the deepest reaches of the lung. It will be introduced through a working channel of a bronchoscope, making it highly compatible with current procedures. The probe will have integrated optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescence imaging to allow multi-modal visualisation of the morphological and cellular details of the airways. Optical coherence tomography will provide 3D images to a depth of 1-2 mm into the tissue, while fluorescence imaging will provide high resolution surface imaging. These real-time imaging techniques will be used to help navigate the probe to the correct location for extraction of the biopsy tissue sample, increasing the chances of a successful diagnosis.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk