Scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has found a new type of laser that can find and destroy a single cancer cell. On a recent news post, the University has confirmed about this innovative technology. A team of researcher led by Dr. Vladimir Zharov has demonstrated the capability of this new type of laser. At only 22 nano meters (1 nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter) in diameter this lasers is being called as "Spaser".
This laser generates super-bright light and directly pointing it on the cell, it transforms this light into heat, nano-bubbles and sound waves that eventually kills the cell. Dr. Zharov states, "The use of lasers has revolutionized disease diagnosis and treatment. However, the large size of lasers has prevented their use in many medical applications at the cellular level."Single Cancer Cell. © HealthImaging.
Blood can transmit cancer cell to different parts of the body. Generally doctors can take blood sample to find the presence of tumor cells in a body. However, sometimes the test result may become negative even if the cancer cell is present on a single sample, especially if the patient has early stage of cancer. The test result becomes positive only if the body has higher concentration of circulating tumor cell. In other words, by the time it gets identified it may be little "too late to effectively treat patients", said Zharov.
This new laser technology can easily be used from outside of the skin as it only heats up melanoma cells, not the healthy cells. The team has tested this laser on 28 patient who had Melanoma and 19 healthy volunteers who didn't have melanoma. During the test phase, this laser successfully found the circulating tumor cells in 27 individuals out of 28 patients. This devices did not return any false positive result to any of the 19 healthy volunteers and did not cause any side effects.
The team later found out that the cancer patients had fewer circulating cancer cells than before. Even though this is a great achievement by any standard, this device with new laser technology is still in testing phase and would require lot more test and time before it becomes commercially available as a treatment tool.