In this project, aninterdisciplinary team of investigators at the AIR Center, IBS Laboratory, andpartner institutions, is involved in a translational research program thatcombines imaging-technology development with biomarker discovery for the earlydetection of epithelial cancers. New imaging technologies have often been a keyto the early detection and treatment of cancer. Examples include MRI andmammography, which save lives through early detection. In this project, aunique endoscopic imaging tool that performs a noninvasive “opticalbiopsy” of esophagus tissues is being developed for detecting pre-cancerousconditions in the esophagus. The power of this tool, the miniature novelconfocal microscope, is that it images tissue structure with enough clarity andresolution to identify pre-cancerous tissues. This technology is alsocompatible with the use of optically-labeled biomarkers being developed in ourgroup to specifically tag and identify pre-cancerous tissues. The combinationof developing an advanced imaging technology, which greatly improves uponcurrent in vivo imaging techniques, as well as the developmentof biomarkers specifically formulated for use with this imaging technology tolocate pre-cancerous tissues, is an extremely powerful strategy. Studies showthat 90% of the cancers in hollow organs originate in the epithelial layers.The technologies being developed here, of “optical biopsy” andbiomarker-assisted detection in the esophagus, are widely applicable to theearly detection of cancer in all hollow organs such as the lung, colon,stomach, cervix, uterus, etc., and will have great utility for monitoringat-risk patients and assessing outcome.