04 March 2019 LUCA at ECR 2019


The international LUCA consortium presents an innovative non-invasive tool for thyroid cancer screening at the European Conference of Radiology. From February 27th to March 3rd, the international LUCA consortium has presented the latest developments of the LUCA project at the European Conference of Radiology taking place in Vienna, Austria.

Funded by the European Commission and since its start in 2016, the LUCA project has aimed to develop a non-invasive, low-cost device that brings a new solution for thyroid cancer screening. After three years of hard and intensive work, the international and interdisciplinary team of physicists and engineers, clinical endocrinologists, radiologists, together with industrial partners, have now finished the integration of the LUCA demonstrator. They have carried out the first successful measurements with the new device, confirming promising results for the pilot feasibility studies on healthy volunteers and patients in the final year of the project.

Thyroid cancer is a major health issue for European citizens, with about 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The methods used nowadays to detect and diagnose thyroid cancer do not provide physicians with the adequate tools to accurately determine whether the thyroid nodules are benign or malignant. Thus, false positive results cause a high number of unnecessary surgeries, which not only account for major health costs to European hospitals but also produce needless discouragement on patients and their families.

Searching to improve sensitivity and specificity of screening processes, the four-year EU-funded project Laser and Ultrasound Co-analyzer for Thyroid Nodules (LUCA) has developed this device to obtain more specific thyroid nodule screening and thus better diagnosis. By combining the traditional ultrasound imaging with a state-of-the-art photonics that obtains measurements of tissue hemodynamics and thyroid nodule composition with the use of light, the LUCA device will enhance the non-invasive characterization of the thyroid tissue, aiming to reduce the amount of uncertainties in the diagnosis of thyroid nodules.

Coordinated by the Medical Optics research group at ICFO led by ICREA Prof. Turgut Durduran, the LUCA project brings together renowned organisations and industrial partners from all over Europe: ICFO; Politecnico di Milano, IT; August PI i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), ES; Hemophotonics SL, ES; Vermon SA, FR; IMV Imaging France, FR; University of Birmingham, UK; European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research, AT.