Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), with the main types being Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic diseases that are characterized by recurring phases of inflammation of different bowel areas. Colonoscopy is the gold standard for assessing disease activity. More recently, optoacoustic imaging has shown the potential to provide a non-invasive assessment of colon wall inflammation through a transabdominal scan. In 2021, a first multi-center regulatory trial, EUPHORIA, was initiated by iThera Medical.

Color-coded optoacoustic contrast of hemoglobin concentration overlaid on an ultrasound image of the colon wall.

Hemoglobin concentration as a biomarker of inflammation in IBD patients

Inflammation is involved in the etiology of many chronic diseases. There is an increased demand to monitor inflammation non-invasively for diagnosis and for the assessment of therapeutic response. Inflammation is usually characterized by an increase in blood concentration in the affected tissue – which can be measured by MSOT.

A clinical exam with the combination of ultrasound and MSOT enables transabdominal ultrasound visualization of the mucosal structure of the intestinal wall patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Here, the MSOT-derived hemoglobin signal is used to assess different degrees of inflammation.

The MSOT promise: become the most accurate non-invasive method of monitoring

In a recent clinical study conducted on Crohn’s disease patients, MSOT outperformed all other non-invasive approaches for assessing disease activity, with endoscopy being used as a gold standard.

While these results suggest that MSOT can improve the diagnostic accuracy and reduce the frequency of colonoscopy procedures, further trials are needed to confirm these initial findings. iThera Medical plans to confirm these findings in a multi-center clinical trial.

Receiver operating characteristic curve showing the performance of MSOT in comparison to established procedures.