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  • Spectroscopic “fingerprints” differentiate brain tumors

BioPhotonics
Dec 2012

LANCASTER, UK – A breakthrough in brain tumor diagnosis uses infrared and Raman spectroscopy to differentiate healthy from diseased tissue based on individual biochemical-cell “fingerprints.”

Currently, it is difficult for surgeons to determine where the tumor ends and normal tissue begins.

But now research from Lancaster University has shown that Raman spectroscopy, a method that works effectively on living tissue, makes it possible to spot the difference between cancer and normal tissue, yielding accurate results in seconds.

The new technique, which is coupled with statistical analysis, makes it theoretically possible to test living tissue during surgery, helping doctors remove the complete tumor while preserving adjacent healthy tissue.

The fingerprinting method can also help identify whether the tumor originated in the brain or at an unknown primary site. This could help reveal previously undetected cancer elsewhere in the body, improving patient outcomes.

“These are really exciting developments which could lead to significant improvements for individual patients diagnosed with brain tumors,” said professor Francis Martin. “We and other research teams are now working toward a sensor which can be used during brain surgery to give surgeons precise information about the tumor and tissue type that they are operating on.”

The method can be combined with conventional methods of brain tumor diagnosis and grading such as immunohistochemistry, which could enable more accurate planning and execution of surgery or radiation therapy and increase survival rates.

The findings appeared online in Analytical Methods (doi: 10.1039/c2ay25544h).


GLOSSARY
infrared spectroscopy
The measurement of the ability of matter to absorb, transmit or reflect infrared radiation and the relating of the resultant data to chemical structure.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
raman spectroscopy
That branch of spectroscopy concerned with Raman spectra and used to provide a means of studying pure rotational, pure vibrational and rotation-vibration energy changes in the ground level of molecules. Raman spectroscopy is dependent on the collision of incident light quanta with the molecule, inducing the molecule to undergo the change.  
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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