Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) is a common, incapacitating, chronic condition among individuals who sustain traumatic joint injuries. Currently, even after surgical reconstruction of the trauma-induced pathoanatomy, supplemented with chondroregenerative interventions, cartilage degeneration continues to progress. The ability to assess the efficacy of PTOA treatments that preserve and/or regenerate cartilage is burdened by a lack of standardized diagnostic biomarkers that can objectively evaluate the efficacy of PTOA treatments. For clinical diagnostics, arthroscopic based macroscopic cartilage grading systems and MRI portrayals of cartilage composition are, at best, only moderately correlated with quantitative assessments of cartilage composition and material properties relevant to the mechanical integrity and functional performance of the regenerate tissue. Hence, there is a great need to develop new medical technologies to assess cartilage health in vivo.
Raman spectroscopy is an inelastic optical light scattering technique that can be used for molecular characterization of cartilage. Incident laser light induces a polarization change of molecules, and a small proportion of incident photons are scattered with a wavelength change. The absorbed energy corresponds to the specific Raman active vibrational modes of the molecule. The Raman spectrum of cartilage tissue provides a quantitative, point-wise optical fingerprint of the tissue’s molecular building blocks (amides, sulfates, carboxylic acids, and hydroxyls), thus allowing recognition of the predominant molecular constituents of articular cartilage: GAG, collagen, and H2O. This PhD study aims to develop clinical Raman based oblique fibre-optic arthroscopic needle probes to achieve real-time analysis of cartilage in vivo animal studies and patient clinical trials. The translation of Raman-based arthroscopy into a safe, effective medical platform can be transformative for clinical practice, enabling rapid and efficient identification of PTOA cartilage lesions and monitoring of cartilage regeneration during routine arthroscopy. Further, we will explore the wider application of these fibre-optic probes in other organs such as the oral cavity.
The student will develop skills in:
- Optical instrumentation
- Clinical applications of biophotonics
- Analytical characterisation
- Multivariate data analysis and artificial intelligence
- We are looking for candidates with a strong background in Physics, Optics, Chemistry Biophysics, Biomedical and hands-on experience in optical laboratories.
- You have excellent analytical skills and an innate ability for solution-oriented problem solving.
- You have strong interests in bioimaging or medical technologies that can create impact on patients.
- You are interested in constructing optical instruments, optical spectroscopy, optical microscopy, tissue handling. Experience in multivariate data analysis, deep learning and/or programming will be considered as a benefit.
- You possess excellent social and communication skills, in academic as well as non-academic contexts.
- You like working interdisciplinary in a team in which fundamental and applied research cross-fertilize.
- You have a creative and critical attitude.
- You are fluent in English language skills, both in speaking and writing.
Stipend and/or bench fees (amount): Stipend: UKRI rate - £19,668 per annum (2022/23). Tuition fees: Home tuition fees apply - difference in overseas fees waived by College
Duration of award/project: 3 years.
Eligibility: Home, Overseas students.
Mode of study: Full time.
For more information please visit the project page: Development of Image guided Raman arthroscopy for molecular tissue diagnostics | Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences | King’s College London (kcl.ac.uk)