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Scientists Are Using Blood Laser To Improve Cancer Detection

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Cancer is probably one of the most difficult diseases to treat, no matter how good the doctor is. Even when it has already been cured, chances are the cancer cells will regenerate and spread even faster than it did before.

Experts believe that early detection has a significant impact on the chances of eradicating tumors. With this in mind, scientists from the University of Michigan are aiming to make detection of tumors not only easier but more precise.

Currently, medical professionals make use of infrared, ultraviolet lights, and light beams in visualizing tissues but are faced with difficulties including incoherence, low focus, and generally opaque results. To solve these issues, biomedical Engineering professor Xudong (Sherman) Fan led a team of experts who were able to create a blood testing technique that involves the use of laser light triggered from mixing blood and an FDA-approved fluorescent dye to visualize tissues.

Blood lasers make pretty pictures… but they are more useful than they look.

Blood lasers make pretty pictures... but they are more useful than they look.

Published in The Optical Society, their study proved that blood lasers can also be used in drug testing since they foretell changes in cells after being exposed to certain types of drugs.

During the first phase of their research, the team from Michigan were able to pass light into a small laser cavity containing a mixture of human blood and Indocyanine green (ICG), a fluorescent dye that is approved by the FDA. Doing so allowed experts to have better chances of visualizing tissues.

According to Dr. Fan, the blood laser technique works because of a binding action that occurs between the ICG and the proteins in the blood while the blood plasma amplifies light. He also clarified that the ICG alone does not work, which is why it is the perfect technique in blood testing. He is also positive that the blood laser technology can be instrumental to the future of early cancer tumor detection since the ICG accumulates in blood vessels. Since tumors have more vessels in it, the glow of the laser is a significant indicator of appears where tumors exist.

Better tumor imaging can be achieved with ICG.

Better tumor imaging can be achieved with ICG.

While the latest progress of the research only covers mixing ICG with blood outside the body, Fan and his team are planning to move on to testing the technique in an actual blood stream.

“Eventually, we are trying to do it in the human body.”

The only challenge they have yet to surpass is ensuring that the intensity of the laser is not too strong so that it won’t burn any tissue in the process.

Source: Tech Times

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