An Optical Phantom to Mimic Skin Affected by Scleroderma

Principal Investigator: Darren Roblyer

Project Description

Scleroderma, also known as Systemic Sclerosis, is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. An immune response triggers inflammation causing the body to make too much collagen. This excess of collagen in the skin and other tissues causes patches of tight, hard skin. Recent estimates place the incidence rate of systemic sclerosis in the United States at 19 new cases per million adults per year, with an overall prevalence of 240/million adults.

Optical phantoms mimic the optical properties of human tissue such as the absorption coefficient, the scattering coefficient and the anisotropy coefficient, which is defined as the average cosine of the scattering angle. They are commonly used to mimic light distributions in living tissue, calibrate optical devices, record baseline reference measurements, and study and develop new medical imaging and treatment methods. There is a current lack of optical phantoms that are specifically designed to mimic skin affected by scleroderma.

The overall objective of this project is to create an optical phantom that can mimic skin affected by scleroderma. Specifically, it would replicate different fiber structures (as seen in scleroderma) and melanin concentrations in skin. Previous research has shown that patients with scleroderma have significantly higher alignment of dermal collagen bundles (median alignment = 0.79 ± 0.031 SEM) as compared to healthy volunteers (median alignment = 0.62 ± 0.048 SEM). There is a correlation between collagen bundle alignment and total dermal collagen, which suggests that bundle alignment is associated with accumulation and deposition of dermal collagen. This demonstrates a fiber alignment-induced cell migration gene signature in skin affected by scleroderma.


Aarohi Mehendale

2023 Timeline

• Orientation to the lab, fabricate first silicone phantom
• Develop anisotropic phantom prototypes and characterize
• Develop phantoms with different melanin concentration