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Steady Funding Initiatives are Instrumental in Channeling Optical Imaging into New Application Areas, States Frost & Sullivan

publication date: Jul 16, 2012
author/source: Frost & Sullivan
Frost and Sullivan

Application scope set to expand rapidly from current base of ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology

Current optical imaging technologies provide reproducible, accurate, objective, quantitative assessments of tissue structures. As the marked progress in optical imaging techniques observed in recent years is instigating a new wave of business opportunities, there are still areas to improve.

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan's Emerging Trends in Optical Imaging Techniques for Drug Discovery, Clinical Diagnostics and Molecular Imaging research finds that optical imaging at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels is being used intensively by clinicians for diagnosis and treatment-specific applications. Novel advances in optics, data acquisition methods, and image processing software have driven the development of optical imaging technologies, all of which can be used to image tissues and other biological entities with enhanced contrast and resolution capabilities.

"Technology trends are moving from conventional confocal microscopy to optical coherence tomography (OCT), with the adoption of newer technologies such as adaptive optics and polarization imaging in ophthalmology," said Technical Insights Senior Research Analyst Prasanna Vadhana Kannan. "Several start-ups are developing innovative technologies, most of which are in the near completion and advanced phases of clinical approval in the optical imaging market."

OCT has gained much multidisciplinary research interest in recent years as a non-invasive optical imaging technique that can be used to perform cross-sectional in-situ imaging of microstructures in biological tissues. With OCT technology showing rapid progress, it is believed that many commercial devices addressing a plethora of clinical applications could hit the market over the next four to five years.

"OCT is truly an easy-to-use modality that provides digital cellular 2-D and 3-D imaging solutions for clinical and research pathology lab application needs on fixed or fresh tissue," said Prasanna Kannan. "Further refinement could result in achieving significantly higher resolution capabilities and better differentiation of cancerous lesions, embryology studies, and stem cells (involving therapeutics research)."

However, the restricted availability of validated imaging parameters and low end-user awareness could limit the use of optical imaging technologies in research-specific applications. Moreover, the scope for alternative techniques usage and their strong presence (involving digital radiography, nuclear imaging techniques, and hybrid imaging) is likely to deter manufacturers from investing substantially in the development of novel optical imaging methods.

"From a technical standpoint, the key challenge is to address issues related to frozen sections arising from tissue processing steps," said Prasanna Kannan. "This often results in freezing artifacts, which causes physical destruction of the structural integrity of tissues."

Despite such challenges, multi-modality imaging using optical imaging principles is helping drive the development of novel therapeutics and changing the course of patient management in debilitating disease care.

If you are interested in more information on this research, please send an email to Janique Morvan, Corporate Communications, at, with your full contact details.

Emerging Trends in Optical Imaging Techniques for Drug Discovery, Clinical Diagnostics and Molecular Imaging is part of the Technical Insights subscription which also includes research on key optical imaging segments, consisting of optical coherence tomography, hyperspectral imaging, and near-infrared spectroscopy analyses. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters and research services.


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