Early detection of cancer can dramatically increase patient survival. E.g. in oesophageal cancer 5-year survival is 80% when treated early, while only 15% for the overall patient population. Despite surveillance programs, including endoscopy and extensive tissue biopsy protocols, early cancer signs are still often missed. In the oesophagus, early cancerous tissue is not recognized in about 50% of patients.
Hyperspectral imaging has shown high sensitivity for early cancer, but current implementations are too expensive and cumbersome for clinical implementation.
The endoscopy device market was valued at around USD 12 billion in 2021. This huge market offers many application areas where enhanced tissue characterization is needed to improve diagnostic accuracy and guidance during image guided surgery.
Beyond endoscopy, hyperspectral imaging also has broad application potential in medical imaging generally.
Spectera develops real-time imaging for accurate tissue characterization that is suitable for clinical practice. The first product is a flexible endoscope for early cancer detection.
The imaging technology of Spectera builds on research at the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK and contains advanced hyperspectral imaging for real-time imaging at application optimized wavelengths of light.
Early in-human studies with this technology have demonstrated tumor tissue characterization accuracies of 87% to 98%.
Considered to be platform imaging technologies, Spectera explores applications outside of endoscopy with partners.
Two pilot human trials were performed in esophageal cancer (UK) and colorectal cancer (USA) with research prototypes. Spectera now focuses on transforming the technology to enable real-time imaging for tissue characterization. After this, integration into endoscopes can commence. The technology is currently at TRL3.
Meet the team
Gina holds a Masters in biotechnology with a focus on synthetic biology from ETH Zurich and worked in management consulting as well as venture capital before joining NLC. She joined NLC as a Venture Developer in February 2020 to help startups succeed and ensure the wealth of innovation surrounding us gets its chance to make a real impact.