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  • Grant Award Furthers Study of SWIR Light for Detecting Cancer

Photonics.com
Oct 2014
PISCATAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J., Oct. 22, 2014 — Detecting cancer as early as possible can be crucial to providing effective treatment. The continuing development of a new imaging method could do just that.

A Rutgers University research team, along with scientists from Singapore University of Technology and Design, is continuing to develop the new medical imaging method that would reduce — or even eliminate — the need for invasive, often time-consuming biopsies.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, recently awarded the Rutgers team a $2.2 million grant to further advance this ongoing work.


Rare earth nanoparticles encapsulated in albumin shells glow under shortwave IR light. Courtesy of Prabhas Moghe/Rutgers University.

In their continuing study, the researchers use shortwave IR light to penetrate skin and other tissue more deeply than traditionally used light sources; it distributes quickly through the body and gathers at the site of the disease.

The researchers have found recently that the technique could be used to more accurately determine whether a newly detected cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, according to Shridar Ganesan, associate director of Translational Science at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He added that this “should help a surgeon deal with the full extent of disease during a single surgery.”

The light stimulates dyes created using rare-earth nanocrystals encapsulated in a shell of human serum albumin. The researchers have found that the dyes glow under different colors of SWIR light, revealing small cancerous tumors and cardiovascular lesions deep within the body.

“In this way, we can get a precise picture of the makeup and stage of the disease,” said Prabhas Moghe, a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers.

Scientists had previously demonstrated SWIR light’s ability to stimulate fluorescent dyes, but they have proven too toxic to use safely and have not been able to deliver sharp images.

Using their method, the researchers have shown that the spread of cancer, even on a micro scale, could be detected earlier than with traditional techniques such as near-infrared imaging or MRIs. Early testing of the system has demonstrated positive results in mice, according to the researchers.

For more information, visit www.rutgers.edu.


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