Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Detecting cancer with lasers has limited use say MU researchers

One person dies every hour from melanoma skin cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

A technique, known as photoacoustics, can find some forms of melanoma even if only a few cancerous cells exist, but a recent study by MU researchers found that the technique was limited in its ability to identify other types of cancer.

Attaching markers, called enhancers, to cancer cells could improve the ability of photoacoustics to find other types of cancer and could save lives thanks to faster diagnosis, but the technique is in its early stages.

"Eventually, a photoacoustic scan could become a routine part of a medical exam," said Luis Polo-Parada, assistant professor of pharmacology & physiology and resident investigator at the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Missouri. "The technique doesn't use X-rays, like current methods of looking for cancer. It could also allow for much earlier detection of cancer. Now, a cancerous growth is undetectable until it reaches approximately one cubic centimeter in size. Photoacoustics could potentially find cancerous growths of only a few cells. Unfortunately, our research shows that, besides some cases of melanoma, the diagnostic use of photoacoustics still has major limitations. To overcome this problem, the use of photoacoustic enhancers like gold, carbon nanotubes or dyed nanoparticles, is needed."

Photoacoustics uses pulses of laser light to heat cells for a fraction of a second. When the cells become hot they emit a tiny sound. Extremely sensitive microphones can hear those sounds. The strength of the sound depends on how much laser light is absorbed. Since darker objects absorb more light they also emit more sound and can be found using photoacoustics.

"Some Melanoma can be found by photoacoustics because the cells contain large quantities of melanin, a dark pigment," Polo-Parada said. "Other cancers don't have that much pigmentation; hence, they don't stand out as much in photoacoustic scans. This is where enhancers may be able to help by labeling cancer cells and making them stand-out in a scan."

Polo-Parada in collaboration with Gerardo Gutierrez-Juarez, researcher from the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, found that out of seven types of cancer cells, only one type of melanoma was dark enough to produce a sound strong enough to be distinguishable from the rest.

The photoacoustic technique holds promise in the fight against cancer, said Polo-Parada, but it is too soon to say exactly when the public will benefit. Eventually, other diseases that cause changes in the coloration of cellular tissue, such as malaria, could be found by photoacoustics.

Luis Polo-Parada is an assistant professor in medical pharmacology & physiology and resident investigator at MU's Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. The study, "An experimental and theoretical approach to the study of the photoacoustic signal produced by cancer cells," was published in the journal AIP Advances.

Timothy Wall | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>