Ispra, Italy, 29 July 2002
A technique for the detection of pancreatic disease owned by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been granted a patent by the United States Patent Office.
On 21 May 2002, the patent no. US6393315B1 was granted by the USPTO for a method and associated instrumentation to diagnose serious pancreatic disease in vivo, entitled, "Detecting and mapping of inflamed zones in a living tissue".
The intellectual property rights associated with the patent are fully owned by the JRC. The method is based on imaging laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy. Although the method can be used as a direct diagnostic aid, it can also be employed to guide a surgical intervention aimed at removing diseased tissue.
What is unique about the method is that it does not require any medication to be administered to the patient to stimulate the production of fluorophores at the site of diseased tissue. It detects the presence of a strongly fluorescent endogenous porphyrin (PPIX) that the body produces naturally.
This is linked to the fact that higher concentrations of this biochemical are found in inflamed tissue in the early stages of disease. The Biomedical Materials and Systems Unit of the JRC's Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) are currently implementing final design refinements to a prototype endoscopic system based on the technique. It is hoped this specialist instrument will be ready for in vitro and clinical trials in September 2002.