Barrett’s oesophagus refers to an abnormal change in cells that line the lower part of the oesophagus (Gullet). Long-term damage from acid and bile travelling upwards from the stomach causes the cells to change to a more acid resistant type; however, these cells are more likely to develop into oesophageal cancer. Recent statistics indicate that oesophageal cancer is becoming much more common in the UK. Although only one to two people out of 100 with Barrett’s oesophagus will develop oesophageal cancer, surveillance is critical to detect the onset of precancerous change or cancer as early as possible to enable cure.
Endoscopy is therefore recommended for surveillance of patients with Barrett’s oesophagus. Expert endoscopists can identify areas at risk of developing cancer, but this is challenging. Changes in the surface structure of the tissue and other irregularities indicate precancerous and cancer development. These subtle signs are used by expert endoscopists to target samples which are then analysed by pathologists. We will develop a computer-aided video analysis system to assist less expert endoscopists to take precision-targeted samples. We will also develop this technology for supporting the real-time analysis of endoscopy video images for other medical conditions.
This project is a collaboration between the Translational Gastroenterology Unit (Drs. Braden, Bailey, Bird-Lieberman, and East), the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford (Prof. Rittscher).
Jens Rittscher and James East
Department of Engineering Science and Translational Gastroenterology Unit