Yesterday evening the five finalists from the USA, Canada, Spain, France and Germany engaged in a head-to-head race at the public HORAO Conference in Bern. In 2018 all five had participated in the global crowdsourcing competition (intelligence of the masses) for developing an even more accurate microscope for brain tumor surgery and were nominated for the final by an internationally renowned jury. The five finalists faced their final challenge at the HORAO Conference as they presented their proposed solution to the jury and the audience, who then determined the final winner via e-voting.
Detecting brain tumors with «Mueller Polarimetry»
Winner Ivan Gusachenko, Development Engineer at Cailabs SARL in Rennes, France, proposes the use of «Optical Mueller Polarimetric Imaging» to visualize brain tumors during surgery. «Mueller Polarimetry» uses polarized (i. e. organized) light to probe the tissue structures. Organised structures in the brain (brain fibres) reflect polarised light differently than unorganized cells (tumors). Gusachenko suggests equipping the surgical microscope with polarizers so that tumor borders can be directly faded in on the microscope image that the surgeon sees during the surgery. With the prize money in the amount of USD 35,000 and additional support by an expert coach, his project will be further advanced and eventually developed to market maturity.
Bernese innovative spirit and pioneering work
The aim of the HORAO Project is to find innovative technologies that can visualize the exact boundary between the tumor and the healthy, surrounding tissue during brain tumor surgery, thus enabling neurosurgeons to operate brain tumors even more safely and efficiently.
Behind the project are Prof. Dr. med. Philippe Schucht, Senior Attending Specialist, and his team at the Department of Neurosurgery at Inselspital, Bern University Hospital. The team successfully carried out the first crowdfunding in medical research in Switzerland in 2017 in order to launch a global crowdsourcing competition in 2018. In contrast to crowdfunding, crowdsourcing in Switzerland is still relatively unknown – yet offers the possiblilty to tap into creative and intellectual potential from thousands upon thousands of innovators from highly diverse fields of expertise worldwide.
Collectively, more than 10 000 people had shown interest in the HORAO crowdsourcing. Over 270 researchers and 18 teams from over 30 countries across every continent participated in the competition. A total of 45 projects from more than 20 countries were submitted.