Feb 062011
 
Cervical Correlation Case 2, Biopsy

Image by euthman via Flickr

Biopsies in the future may be painless and noninvasive, thanks to smart laser technology being developed at Michigan State University.

To test for skin cancer, patients today must endure doctors cutting away a sliver of skin, sending the biopsy to a lab and anxiously awaiting the results. Using laser microscopes that deploy rapid, ultra-short pulses to identify molecules, doctors may soon have the tools to painlessly scan a patient’s troublesome mole and review the results on the spot, said Marcos Dantus.

The results touting this new molecule-selective technology can be found in the current issue ofNature Photonics, which Dantus co-authored with Sunney Xie of Harvard University.

“Smart lasers allow us to selectively excite compounds — even ones with small spectroscopic differences,” said Dantus. “We can shape the pulse of the lasers, excite one compound or another based on their vibrational signatures, and this gives us excellent contrast.”

In the past, researchers could approach this level of contrast by introducing fluorescent compounds. With the breakthrough using stimulated Raman scattering microscopy, fluorescent markers are unnecessary.

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