Handheld Probe Detects Brain Cancer
Researchers in Canada have created a handheld fiber optic probe that can detect brain cancer. This could help brain surgeons during procedures to remove cancerous tissue from the brain. A tumor called Glioma form from the glial cells, which surround and support nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. “Often it is impossible to visually distinguish cancer from normal brain, so invasive brain cancer cells frequently remain after surgery, leading to cancer recurrence and a worse prognosis,” McGill University’s Kevin Petrecca says in a news release. “Surgically minimizing the number of cancer cells improves patient outcomes.”
Petrecca and his colleagues created a probe using a technique that utilizes lasers in order to measure how molecules in an object scatter light. This creates a spectrum that’s unique to that object. So, Petrecca and colleagues developed a probe based on Raman spectroscopy, a technique utilizing lasers to measure the way molecules in an object scatter light, producing a spectrum that’s unique to that object. “The emitted light provides a spectroscopic signal that can be interpreted to provide specific information about the molecular makeup of the interrogated tissue,” says study author Frederic Leblond of Polytechnique Montréal. When it has contact with the brain, the probe illuminates a small spot into the tissue and displays real-time Raman spectra of that area.