Thyroid Nodules: laser and ultrasound for a more precise and rapid diagnosis
The European project called LUCA, funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, aims at developing a low-cost technology for a more precise diagnosis of thyroid nodules, which will help considerably reduce the number of unnecessary surgeries. The project will involve Italian researchers from the Polytechnic University of Milan.
Thyroid cancer is a major and growing health challenge with around three hundred thousand new cases diagnosed worldwide annually. Current methods do not provide sufficient support to surgeons in their decision on the appropriate course of action, which leads to significant number of unnecessary surgeries. With the purpose of considerably improve the diagnoses of this type of tumours, the European project called LUCA (Laser and Ultrasound CO-analyser for Thyroid Nodules) was launched in February. This project aims at developing a low-cost innovative technology for a more precise and effective diagnosis of thyroid nodules, thus enabling physicians to produce better diagnoses and considerably reducing the number of unnecessary surgeries.
The project, funded with approximately €3.6 million under the Horizon 2020 European Programme for Research and Innovation, involves researchers from the Polytechnic University of Milan, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer in Barcelona, University of Birmingham, European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research di Vienna, as well as some French (Vermon and Echo Control Medical) and Spanish companies (Haemophotonics) coordinated by the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona.
The LUCA instrument aims at addressing current diagnostic issues by combining traditional ultrasound with an optical system based on Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy and an optical system for the characterization of nodule composition based on Time Resolved Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. LUCA specific features will enable physicians to decide if a suspect nodule requires further investigation.
“This is the prestigious result of several decades of investigation with the Polytechnic University of Milan as one of the international centres of excellence in the development of photonic techniques for the health”, said the research team of the Polytechnic University of Milan. The Italian team plays a major role in this project, having helped developing the instrument for the non-invasive characterization of thyroid nodules through advanced photonic techniques and being the coordinator of the validation of the LUCA instrument at its research infrastructures: these lab tests will verify the suitability of the instrument for the implementation of the project clinical phase.