The Centre has a long history of developing new techniques for medical imaging (particularly in magnetic resonance imaging), transforming them from a primarily diagnostic modality into an interventional and therapeutic platform. This is facilitated by the Centre's strong engineering background in practical imaging and image analysis platform development, as well as advances in minimal access and robotic assisted surgery. Hamlyn has a strong tradition in pursuing basic sciences and theoretical research, with a clear focus on clinical translation.

In response to the current paradigm shift and clinical demand in bringing cellular and molecular imaging modalities to an in vivo – in situ setting during surgical intervention, our recent research has also been focussed on novel biophotonics platforms that can be used for real-time tissue characterisation, functional assessment, and intraoperative guidance during minimally invasive surgery. This includes, for example, SMART confocal laser endomicroscopy, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and flexible FLIM catheters.

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  • Journal article
    Thompson A, Bourke C, Robertson R, Shivakumar N, Edwards C, Preston T, Holmes E, Paul K, Gary F, Douglas Met al., 2021,

    Understanding the role of the gut in undernutrition: what can technology tell us?

    , Gut, Vol: 70, Pages: 1580-1594, ISSN: 0017-5749

    Gut function remains largely underinvestigated in undernutrition, despite its critical role in essential nutrient digestion, absorption and assimilation. In areas of high enteropathogen burden, alterations in gut barrier function and subsequent inflammatory effects are observable but remain poorly characterised. Environmental enteropathy (EE)—a condition that affects both gut morphology and function and is characterised by blunted villi, inflammation and increased permeability—is thought to play a role in impaired linear growth (stunting) and severe acute malnutrition. However, the lack of tools to quantitatively characterise gut functional capacity has hampered both our understanding of gut pathogenesis in undernutrition and evaluation of gut-targeted therapies to accelerate nutritional recovery. Here we survey the technology landscape for potential solutions to improve assessment of gut function, focussing on devices that could be deployed at point-of-care in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). We assess the potential for technological innovation to assess gut morphology, function, barrier integrity and immune response in undernutrition, and highlight the approaches that are currently most suitable for deployment and development. This article focuses on EE and undernutrition in LMICs, but many of these technologies may also become useful in monitoring of other gut pathologies.

  • Journal article
    Lett A, Lim A, Skinner C, Maurice J, Vergis N, Darzi A, Goldin R, Thursz M, Thompson Aet al., 2021,

    Rapid, non-invasive measurement of gastric emptying rate using transcutaneous fluorescence spectroscopy

    , Biomedical Optics Express, Vol: 12, Pages: 4249-4264, ISSN: 2156-7085

    Gastric emptying rate (GER) signifies the rate at which the stomach empties following ingestion of a meal and is relevant to a wide range of clinical conditions. GER also represents a rate limiting step in small intestinal absorption and so is widely assessed for research purposes. Despite the clinical and physiological importance of gastric emptying, methods used to measure GER possess a series of limitations (including being invasive, slow or unsuitable for certain patient populations). Here, we present a new technique based on transcutaneous (through-the-skin) fluorescence spectroscopy that is fast, non-invasive, and does not require the collection of samples or laboratory-based analysis. Thus, this approach has the potential to allow immediate reporting of clinical results. Using this new method, participants receive an oral dose of a fluorescent contrast agent and a wearable probe detects the uptake of the agent from the gut into the blood stream. Analysis of the resulting data then permits the calculation of GER. We compared our spectroscopic technique to the paracetamol absorption test (a clinically approved GER test) in a clinical study of 20 participants. Results demonstrated good agreement between the two approaches and, hence, the clear potential of transcutaneous fluorescence spectroscopy for clinical assessment of GER.

  • Journal article
    Kim J, Yeatman E, Thompson A, 2021,

    Plasmonic optical fiber for bacteria manipulation—characterization and visualization of accumulation behavior under plasmo-thermal trapping

    , Biomedical Optics Express, Vol: 12, Pages: 3917-3933, ISSN: 2156-7085

    In this article, we demonstrate a plasmo-thermal bacterial accumulation effect usinga miniature plasmonic optical fiber. Combined action of far-field convection and a near-fieldtrapping force (referred to as thermophoresis)—induced by highly localized plasmonicheating—enabled large-area accumulation of Escherichia coli. The estimated thermophoretictrapping force agreed with previous reports, and we applied speckle imaging analysis to mapthe in-plane bacterial velocities over large areas. This is the first time that spatial mapping ofbacterial velocities has been achieved in this setting. Thus, this analysis technique providesopportunities to better understand this phenomenon and to drive it towards in vivo applications.

  • Journal article
    Mbuki R, Chileya S, Thompson AJ, Kelly P, Kayamba Vet al., 2021,

    Rapid testing of gut permeability using oral fluorescein and confocal laser endomicroscopy in Zambian adults.

    , Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

    BACKGROUND: Dual sugar testing for gut permeability is time-consuming and complex. We explored the utility of fluorescein as a simple and inexpensive alternative method. METHODS: We used a confocal laser endomicroscopy probe placed at the fingertip of participants who had ingested sodium fluorescein to measure the fluorescence at various time points. RESULTS: In 10 patients with diarrhoea, but not in 10 controls, fluorescence was detected quickly. By 6 min fluorescence was detected in all diarrhoea patients but only 1 control (p=0.0004). After 15 min there was no difference between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: This simple oral fluorescein test may be useful to study gut permeability in low-resource settings.

  • Conference paper
    Han J, Gu X, Lo B, 2021,

    Semi-supervised contrastive learning for generalizable motor imagery eeg classification

    , 17th IEEE International Conference on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks, Publisher: IEEE

    Electroencephalography (EEG) is one of the most widely used brain-activity recording methods in non-invasive brain-machine interfaces (BCIs). However, EEG data is highly nonlinear, and its datasets often suffer from issues such as data heterogeneity, label uncertainty and data/label scarcity. To address these, we propose a domain independent, end-to-end semi-supervised learning framework with contrastive learning and adversarial training strategies. Our method was evaluated in experiments with different amounts of labels and an ablation study in a motor imagery EEG dataset. The experiments demonstrate that the proposed framework with two different backbone deep neural networks show improved performance over their supervised counterparts under the same condition.

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