Cancer metastasis is responsible for 90% of cancer related deaths. In breast cancer, metastasis occurs mostly via the lymphatic system. The lymphatic nodes that are closest to a tumour are the most likely route for the cancer cells to first reach and enter the lymphatic system and are referred to as the sentinel lymph nodes (SLN).

Diagnosing the presence of cancerous cells within the SLN is therefore critical to provide optimum treatment plans. The gold standard is currently an invasive surgical process: the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB).

SLNB however comes with several drawbacks:

  • The procedure requires invasive surgery.
  • Some patients exhibit an allergic reaction to the blue dye.
  • SLNB is complicated and requires several highly skilled clinicians (surgeons, radiologists, pathologists).
  • SLNB can result in false negative results (5-10%).
  • The analysis of the samples also takes several days/weeks to obtain results.


Brief summary

Our breakthrough research will focus on the development, pre-clinical and clinical validation, and industrial demonstration of a unique all optical cancer prognostic system that will determine presence of cancer cells in the breast lymph nodes and characterize them, which correlates with presence of metastasis and bad prognosis.

The HypoSens imaging system is strategically designed to offer a minimally invasive alternative to the SLNB process. With an approximate cost of €60,000 per device unit and additional €5,000 per patient, the device is an affordable, accurate, easy to use prognostic solution for clinicians towards, once validated,more accurate and fast diagnosis and personalised treatment options.


Project targets

  • Low cost compact and easy to use device that accurately detects and measures luminescent signals through light scattering body tissue.
  • Need to break boundaries in specificity to target breast cancer tumours in SLN with specificity > 99%for micrometastes (0.2 mm).
  • Achieving high resolution and sensitivity >95% for in vivo minimally invasive diagnosis within real time.
  • Accurate measurement of dynamic cellular activity at molecular level without interfering with intracellular activities so as to allow long term observation and improve diagnostic outcomes.
  • Ensuring device design matches practical, social, economic and regulatory needs.



  • Substantially improved in-depth diagnosis.
  • More effective treatment of breast cancer.
  • Significant decrease in the diagnostic costs associated with metastatic breast cancer progression.
  • Improvement in the general lifestyle and well-being of both the cancer patients and their loved ones.
  • Step forward in cancer progression prognosis by eliminating the procedure SLNB currently used in breast, vulval, colorectal and gastric cancer, pelvic and renal tumours (via the use of different tumor-targeting moieties).