Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have induced structures incorporated within individual cells to produce laser light.
Cells are smart machines, and we are interested in exploiting their amazing capabilities by developing smart-cell lasers that might be able to find diseases and fire light at them on their own. We can envision lasers completely made out of materials that are safe for use within the human body, which could enable remote sensing within the body or be used in laser-light therapies.”
The wavelengths of light emitted by these intracellular microlasers differ based on factors such as the size, shape and composition of each microlaser, allowing precise labeling of individual cells. The researchers’ report has received Advance Online Publication in Nature Photonics.
“The fluorescent dyes currently used for research and for medical diagnosis are limited because they emit a very broad spectrum of light,” explains Seok Hyun Yun, PhD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH, corresponding author of the report. “As a result, only a handful of dyes can be used at a time, since their spectral signatures would overlap.”
Lead author Matja Humar, PhD, also of the Wellman Center, adds, “The narrow-band spectrum of light emitted by these intracellular lasers would allow us to label thousands – in principal up to a trillion – of cells individually, and the very specific wavelengths emitted by these microlasers also would allow us to measure small changes happening within a cell with much greater sensitivity than is possible with broadband fluorescence.”
The Latest on: Laser-light therapies
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The Latest on: Laser-light therapies
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