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Luminescent Sensor Enables Biomedical Imaging

Photonics.com
Jul 2006
CARDIFF, Wales, July 26, 2006 -- A new way of detecting zinc in the body -- a luminescent probe that changes when the element is present -- could one day help doctors detect illnesses such as cancer.

Simon Pope and colleagues in Cardiff University's school of chemistry have designed a new type of luminescent sensor for biomedical imaging that can selectively detect the presence of zinc in the body. Zinc is essential for human growth and development and an imbalance of the element occurs in humans suffering from cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses. However, little is known about the distribution, accumulation and mobility of intracellular zinc.

Biomedical imaging enables physicians and scientists to "see" inside the body and better understand tissue and organ function. The new sensor uses europium ions which, when zinc is present, causes a detectable change in the red luminescence of the chemical.

"Our approach is to design molecules that are non-toxic to the body and that can be applied to scanning techniques such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and luminescence imaging. Our next goal is to improve the properties of the sensor to potentially allow a greater imaging depth within tissue," Pope said.

For more information, visit: www.cardiff.ac.uk


GLOSSARY
sensor
1. A generic term for detector. 2. A complete optical/mechanical/electronic system that contains some form of radiation detector.
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