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Linking innovative technologies to clinical needs in cancer research

Dr. Franziska Hoffman, a biologist and former clinical partner in the CHARM consortium, bridges cutting-edge tech and clinical needs, advancing cancer research.

In a recent interview, Dr. Franziska Hoffman, a renowned biologist and scientist specializing in biophotonics at the University Hospital in Jena, Germany, shared groundbreaking insights into her work within the CHARM consortium. Dr. Hoffman’s role as the clinical partner has been pivotal in bridging the gap between cutting-edge technology and the practical application of innovative biophotonics.

Transcript

So, hi, everyone. I’m Franziska Hoffman, a biologist working as a scientist in innovative biophotonics at the University Hospital in Jena. My team and I are very happy to join the CHARM consortium. Within this project, we have the role of the clinical partner. That means that we are responsible for all things that have something to do with the future clinical use of the microscope. What we are doing is that we provide actual samples from patients with head and neck cancer undergoing surgery in our hospital. We also test and evaluate the performance and usability of the microscope. Our most essential task is to consult with other CHARM project partners continuously. So we’re always bringing in the physician’s point of view into the development of the microscope, or let’s say, in other words, we make sure that the technology and all the workflows created under the CHARM project are designed in a way to fit into the real lives of pathologists and clinicians.

We are highly excited to use the new CRS microscope to study cancer biology because this microscope will allow us to investigate tumour tissue at a deep molecular level very quickly and with an impressive performance. So far, we have been limited to market-based imaging techniques, which require time-consuming preparations to be scheduled in advance. Some of these techniques take days to obtain one single image with a distribution of just one single molecule, but with the CHARM approach, we can detect a huge number of molecules in a matter of just minutes. So, this information will give us completely new insights into the biology of cancer development. This will unravel new undiscovered mechanisms, for example, how healthy cells become cancer cells or why the patient’s immune system doesn’t fight against cancer.

The CHARM project allows me to be directly involved in the development and the creation of a new product that other scientists and clinicians will use and see that things of such magnitude can be developed from a purely experimental environment like we usually have in our daily lab routine is something really special and exciting for scientists.

Dr. Hoffman highlighted the key responsibilities of her team within the project, including providing actual patient samples from head and neck cancer surgeries at their hospital, testing and evaluating the performance and usability of the project’s technological solution, and ensuring that it aligns with the needs of pathologists and clinicians.

According to Dr Hoffman, one of the most promising aspects of their research lies in the potential of CHARM’s imaging technology to swiftly and accurately investigate tumour tissue at a molecular level. This contrasts with traditional imaging techniques that demand extensive preparations and days to produce a single image of a single molecule. Thanks to the CHARM approach, Dr. Hoffman’s team can detect an array of molecules within minutes, heralding a new era of insights into cancer biology.

The CHARM project allows me to be directly involved in the development … of a new product that other scientists and clinicians will use. Seeing that things of such magnitude can be developed from a purely experimental environment, like we usually have in our daily lab routine is something really special and exciting for scientists.

In a note of appreciation and farewell, it is worth mentioning that Dr. Franziska Hoffman has recently concluded her tenure at CHARM. Her invaluable contributions to the project’s clinical translation have left an indelible mark, and her unwavering dedication to advancing cancer research is commendable. The CHARM consortium is grateful for her partnership and wishes her success in future endeavours.

The work of Dr. Hoffman and her team stands as a testament to the potential of collaboration between scientists, clinicians, and innovative technology in the ongoing race to understand and fight cancer.