The Positive Side of Medicine

Scientists Develop New Laser That Can Find and Destroy Cancer Cells in the Blood

Scientists Develop New Laser That Can Find and Destroy Cancer Cells in the Blood

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Scientists every day, new medicines and technologies are being tested to help detect and destroy cancer cells. One such technology being tested by today’s medical experts is a new type of laser that doctors use to zap cancer cells. While this technology is still being tested, it is 1,000 times more delicate than other methods that are currently used to detect cancerous cells in the blood.

New Technology to Fight Cancer Cells

According to researchers, this new laser technology is one of the most effective methods for detecting tumor cells in individuals diagnosed with melanoma. To test for the spread of cancer cells, doctors take blood samples, but these tests often fail to effectively detect tumor cells.

With traditional testing methods, failure to effectively detect tumor cells can be life-threatening. In the event that tests come back negative, this typically indicates that there is a high concentration of tumor cells circulating in the patient’s blood. At this point, the cancer cells are likely already spreading to the patient’s other organs, which is far too late for any other treatments to be effective.

Testing for Tumor Cells

Scientists knew they needed a more effective method for detecting and destroying cancer cells. Vladimir Zharov, the University of Arkansas’ director of the Medical Sciences’ nanomedicine center, began researching and developing this new technology.

Zharov shares that patients in the earliest stages of cancer need more proactive methods for detecting cancer. Tired of seeing ineffective technologies fail time and again, Zharov worked with his team to create a noninvasive test with greater sensitivity in detecting tumor cells. This technique tests larger amounts of blood and uses pulses of lasers to heat cells inside the blood.

The reason this technology, known as the Cytophone, is so effective is that the lasers only heat up melanoma cells. As these melanoma cells carry the darker pigment melanin, they’re the ones to light up when exposed to the light of the lasers. Using an ultrasound technique, the Cytophone can detect the light waves that are emitted through the heating process.


Killing Cancer Cells with Lasers

As scientists tested the Cytophone, they found the technology didn’t have any false positives or cause any unhealthy side effects. With this technique, the light is focused on a larger section of skin, avoiding any damage associated with a higher concentration of this sort of light. After the treatment that was initially created to detect cancer cells, doctors realized that the cancer patients were recorded as having fewer tumor cells.

In his research, Zharov points out that the low energy level lasers seemed to be destroying the cancer cells.
With the new technology, doctors are able to more effectively test for signs of cancer in blood samples. Now Zharov’s goal is to destroy cancer cells, ultimately preventing the cancer cells from spreading any further.

While the Cytophone is still being tested, these results are quite promising. If this technology continues to prove successful, it is likely that this new cancer treatment will soon available to patients everywhere.

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