Nanotech, off-the-shelf camera lets doctors see cancer cells
Researchers at Rice University hope technology can be used in routine cancer screenings
Computerworld - Researchers have added nanoechnology to an off-the-shelf digital camera to help doctors distinguish healthy cells from cancerous cells in the human body.
Rice University scientists said Thursday that doctors can use the souped-up camera to see cancerous cells on the camera's LCD monitor. Targeted nanoparticles deliver fluorescent dyes to help doctors easily and quickly distinguish healthy from dangerous cells.
Researchers hope the technology can ultimately be used in routine cancer screenings.
"Consumer-grade cameras can serve as powerful platforms for diagnostic imaging," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a Rice University professor and the study's lead author, in a statement. "Based on portability, performance and cost, you could make a case for using them both to lower health care costs in developed countries and to provide services that simply aren't available in resource-poor countries."
Rice University said yesterday that when the nanoparticles deliver dye to the cell, a small bundle of fiber-optic cables attached to a $400 Olympus E-330 digital camera are used to capture images. The dyes cause the cell nuclei to glow brightly when lighted with the tip of the fiber-optic bundle.
Richards-Kortum noted that because the nuclei of cancerous and pre-cancerous cells are notably distorted from those of healthy cells, abnormal cells were easily identifiable, even on the camera's small LCD screen.
Researchers tested three different types of cells: cancer cell cultures that were grown in a lab; tissue samples from newly resected tumors; and healthy tissue viewed in the mouths of patients.
"The dyes and visual techniques that we used are the same sort that pathologists have used for many years to distinguish healthy cells from cancerous cells in biopsied tissue," said study coauthor Mark Pierce, Rice faculty fellow in bioengineering, in a statement. "But the tip of the imaging cable is small and rested lightly against the [patient's] inside the cheek, so the procedure is considerably less painful than a biopsy and the results are available in seconds instead of days."
Scientists have been putting a lot of focus on nanotechnology in recent cancer research.
This past January, teams of researchers from three universities jointly developed a nanotechnology cocktail that should target and kill cancerous tumors. The mixture of two different-sized nanoparticles work with the body's bloodstream to seek out, stick to and kill tumors, according to MIT.
And Stanford University researchers last October announced that they had used nanotechnology and magnetics to create a biosensor designed to detect cancer in its early stages, making a cure more likely. University scientists reported that the sensor, which sits on a microchip, is 1,000 times more sensitive than cancer detectors used clinically today.
A month earlier, researchers at the University of Toronto said they had used nanomaterials to develop a microchip that is sensitive enough to detect early stage cancer. The chip is designed to detect the type of cancer and its severity.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and...
- Three Best Practices to Help Enterprises Overcome BYOD Challenges The new Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment presents challenges for IT managers and business leaders. This paper discusses how IT managers can address those challenges,...
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!