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New technique reveals 3D images of cancer cells

By Tim Sandle     May 20, 2018 in Science
A new advance has been made in medical imaging, which displays cancer cells as three-dimensional images in the human body. This includes an optical process to overcome the problem of transparent cells.
The new technique comes from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Here medical physicists have constructed fine-detailed three-dimensional images of the body's interior. Here cancer cells can be captured.
A problem with medical imaging and the attempt to view cancer cells is that tumour cells are transparent. This means they are difficult to visualize using conventional optical methods. Current procedures, due to the limitations of optics, tend to require individual cancer cells to be examined in test tubes.
This limitation means that medical professionals require an improved means to visualize cancer cells so they can again a more informed understanding of cancer cells together with the cellular properties. Such information is necessary so that the most appropriate treatment can be recommended and target the specific types of cancer cells.
The new technique has been developed by Dr. Jan Laufer. In a research note, the medic said: “Our aim is to visualize cancer cells inside the living body to find out how they function, how they spread and how they react to new therapies.”
The novel technique is based on photoacoustic imaging. This novel method relies on ultrasound waves, which are generated by laser beams, in order to produce high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the body’s interior. This technique renders the normally transparent tumor cells green, helping to differentiate them from non-cancerous cells in the body.
The process begins with the introduction of a specific gene into the genome of the cancer cells. The gene then generates a phytochrome protein. This protein functions as a light sensor. Following this, the scientists illuminate the tissue with short pulses of light using two different wavelengths via the laser. These light pulses are absorbed by the material and then converted into ultrasonic waves. The waves are then measured outside the organism and reconstructed based on the collected data.
The new method can be used by medical personnel to closely examine the development of cancer cells in the human body. The research has been published in the journal Communication Physics. The research paper is titled “Dual-wavelength 3D photoacoustic imaging of mammalian cells using a photoswitchable phytochrome reporter protein.”
More about Cancer, medical images, Imaging, Cells
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