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Optical Fiber Probe Detects Malignant Cancer Cells Using pH Levels

Update Date: Jan 03, 2017 11:02 PM EST

Researchers have found that using an optical fiber probe has a more precise technique to determine cancerous tissue from the normal ones. This technique is done through the bodies pH levels, which can potentially help surgeons determine the early stages of cancer.

This optical method ensures a complete removal of cancerous cells in a surgery without damaging any healthy cells. However, research has confirmed that 15 to 20 percent of cancer cells are not removed. Incomplete removal of malignant tumors will lead to another risk of cancer recurrence.

The excision or the removal of healthy tissue can also lead to the development of more impaired tissues, and prolong the healing process. The margin detection of the malignant tumors is an important part in cancer treatments. The optical fiber probe will help researchers have a precise process of removing the malignant tumors.

The optical probe helps to detect different pH levels in the two types of tissue. This study was proven by the researchers at the University of Adelaide in the ARC Center of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP). It was also been verified by the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, and the Schools of Physical Sciences and Medicine.

The optical fibers were designed to identify the high sensitivity between healthy and cancerous tissue to identify the type of tissue to be removed during the surgery. The optical fiber probes the principle of the acidic level of the normal cells. The normal cells produce more lactic acid and the pH indicator will emit a different color of light in the tip of the optical fiber probe.  A spectrometer will analyze the light and the acid levels.

The malignant tumor will be compared to the acid levels of the healthy issue to ensure the pH measurements of the tip diameter of 10mm in the affected areas. The 200 µm in diameter which is coated with a pH-sensitive substance will be able to determine the fluorophore of the cells. This method can highly reduce the need for repetition of surgery and offer a high chance of removing the cancer cells without harming the healthy tissues.


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