Lasers play many roles in our everyday lives, from optical storage to metal cutting to tattoo and hair removal. Laser technology is used in a wide range of other applications, including surgery and weaponry.
Now, researchers from the University of Michigan have developed a laser technique that uses blood to spot tumors in a human body. The new technique combines laser light with a fluorescent dye to observe cell structure and activity at the molecular level.
The researchers tested out the technique by shining a laser light into a cavity containing whole human blood mixed with Indocyanine green, an FDA-approved fluorescent dye used in diagnostic tests. By examining the light that was reflected back at them, they could observe cell structure and the changes happening to the cells at the molecular level.
The light could be amplified to spot the smallest changes in cells or bodily tissues. This could help in improving clinical imaging and better monitoring of tumors. Surgeons can use the new laser technique to spot the edge of a tumor and remove every last bit of cancer.
It could also be used during drug testing to monitor the changes that cells undergo when exposed to prospective new drugs.