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In Communications biology

Autofluorescence lifetime images reveal unique characteristics of endogenous fluorescence in biological samples. Comprehensive understanding and clinical diagnosis rely on co-registration with the gold standard, histology images, which is extremely challenging due to the difference of both images. Here, we show an unsupervised image-to-image translation network that significantly improves the success of the co-registration using a conventional optimisation-based regression network, applicable to autofluorescence lifetime images at different emission wavelengths. A preliminary blind comparison by experienced researchers shows the superiority of our method on co-registration. The results also indicate that the approach is applicable to various image formats, like fluorescence in-tensity images. With the registration, stitching outcomes illustrate the distinct differences of the spectral lifetime across an unstained tissue, enabling macro-level rapid visual identification of lung cancer and cellular-level characterisation of cell variants and common types. The approach could be effortlessly extended to lifetime images beyond this range and other staining technologies.

Wang Qiang, Fernandes Susan, Williams Gareth O S, Finlayson Neil, Akram Ahsan R, Dhaliwal Kevin, Hopgood James R, Vallejo Marta