The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced that researchers from its Data61 division are developing software that could enable the early detection of malignant tumours.
Specifically, the software tool is being built to detect angiogenesis — the development of new blood vessels — which precedes the growth of cancers.
Researchers at Data61 and the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences analysed 26 high-resolution 3D micro-CT images of the brains and livers of 26 mice at various stages of cancer growth and developed an algorithm that generates what CSIRO claims is an accurate geometric representation of blood vessels.
The researchers applied a technique called “end-point constraints” to preserve the geometric features of new blood vessels, including branching patterns and the lengths of terminal vessels.
“The accurate quantification of vasculature changes, particularly the number of terminal vessel branches, can play a critical role in accurate assessment and treatment,” CSIRO said.
Previously, images of blood vessel structure sourced from high-resolution imaging were only able to produce a skeletonised view of blood vessel structure which provided limited detail and accuracy, according to CSIRO.
Data61’s new software will enable the monitoring of subtle proliferations in blood vessels over time, providing a better understanding of how patients are responding to anti-angiogenesis treatment.
Cancer Council Australia CEO professor Sanchia Aranda said the capacity of cancers to form new blood vessels is a critical feature enabling cancer cells to metastasize.
“The hope is that…