Mantis Shrimp Inspires U of I Tumor Imaging

The camera visualizes tumors in the body to minimize surgical revisions and reduce chance of cancer recurrence.

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A recent Medgadget article discussed an innovative approach to medical imaging for tumor removal surgery. A team of researchers at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created a hexachromatic camera that was inspired by sea life. The human eye can only perceive three colors (red, green and blue), but the compound eyes of the mantis shrimp contain layers of light-sensitive cells at the tip of the eye that allow them to perceive 12 colors.

In the same vein, the hexachromatic camera uses optical filters and semiconductors to capture three colors of near-infrared light that humans can’t see. Patients are administered near-infrared probes that label cancer cells so the camera can find them during surgery and help the surgeon remove the cancer more accurately around the margins. A video with more information can be seen here

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