CHARM is a project aiming to develop a medical device based on high-speed, low-cost Raman digital imaging technology and artificial intelligence to transform cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The technology will analyse the molecular composition of patient tissue samples to distinguish cancerous from healthy cells without the need for chemical staining.
CHARM’s Raman imaging technology uses graphene-based ultra-fast fibre lasers to generate digital images of patient tissue for automatic analysis by artificial intelligence to support diagnosis. Because the images are digital, they can be viewed remotely, allowing histopathologists to work more efficiently and to support regions and countries short of qualified staff. The technology also potentially opens the way for personalised treatments for cancer.
The partners involved are Cambridge Raman Imaging Ltd. (CRI), a polimi spin-off, the University of Cambridge, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Politecnico Di Milano, the Jena University Hospital (Germany) and the firms INsociety (Italy) and Inspiralia (Spain). The project coordinator is Dr Matteo Negro, CRI’s Chief Technology Officer.
CHARM is one of the 42 projects selected for a €3.3 million funding from 292 submitted in the first ever EIC (European Innovation Council) Transition Challenges, intended to support moving technologies from laboratories into the real world. The EIC is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations. In the case of CHARM, it aims to develop medical devices to the preclinical validation phase.
Politecnico di Milano, who pioneered the high-speed Raman imaging technology and co-founded CRI, will be responsible for the development of the microscope and the detection system.
"We are proud to see our technology recognised by the EU as a potentially disruptive innovation, able to strongly support histopathologists in their clinical routine, by providing objective chemical information on tissues to improve cancer diagnosis accuracy and personalised treatment selection" states Dr Matteo Negro, Cambridge Raman Imaging’s Chief Technology Officer and CHARM project coordinator. "CRI has a mission to bring coherent Raman histopathology to the clinical market and the EIC Transition grant will be boosting our activities towards a successful commercialisation of our innovation."
Prof. Giulio Cerullo, head of the ultrafast spectroscopy laboratory at Politecnico di Milano and CRI co-founder, said: "I am excited to contribute to the translation of the results of our scientific studies into a commercial product which promises to significantly improve cancer diagnosis and therapy and have an important societal impact. To foster a close link between fundamental research and technological innovation is one of our main missions as academics and lies at the core of the EIC."
This article was first published on 16 February by Politecnico di Milano.