Despite technical advances in several areas of diagnostic radiology, the imaging of human cancer still hasn’t been able to entirely achieve the desired requirements. There are only six imaging modalities existing to clinicians who diagnose, stage, and treat human cancer: X-ray (plain film and computed tomography [CT]), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and optical imaging. From these, only four (CT, MRI, SPECT, and PET) are capable of three-dimensional (3-D) detection of cancer anywhere in the human body.
According to CLEMSON, South Carolina, a new research branch from scientists at Clemson University has developed a novel imaging technique that could help doctors better visualize cancerous tumors, which uses near-infrared light to stimulate fluorescent molecules that are injected near the site of a tumor.
In the research, the analysts conducted an experiment called three-photon absorption, which could enter even deeper than two photons. Here, they needed high power to stimulate three photons, but it would negatively affect the patient’s health. For overcoming this problem, researchers have recently started testing nanomaterials in the development of fluorescent dyes for multi-photon imaging. Cadmium selenide could perform in longer wavelengths of light, but it was found to be toxic. Nanostructures made of gold and silver were also an option, but they were found to disperse light and become toxic when tested.
Later, they used zinc oxide, a semiconducting nanoparticle that is characterized by its luminescence and its capability to perform with minute microscopic power. These nanoparticles will target and enter the brain and breast cancer cells. Here, in this process, the absence of oxygen atoms and extra zinc atoms are coming as a defect. Later, biocompatibility studies with zinc oxide proved that the molecule would damage any human cell when excited by light.
Finally, the findings reveal that cancer imaging is customizable for different cancer types and can result in more successful tumor resections by helping doctors visualize the borders of a tumor mass. Researchers say that this is a developing field of study that is sure to see improvements in the future.