Scientists have developed a specialised microscope that has the potential to diagnose diseases like skin cancer as well as perform precise surgery without making any incisions in the skin.
According to the study published in the journal Science Advances, the microscope allows medical professionals to pinpoint the exact location of an abnormality, diagnose it and treat it instantly.
“Our technology allows us to scan tissue quickly, and when we see a suspicious or abnormal cell structure, we can perform ultra-precise surgery and selectively treat the unwanted or diseased structure within the tissue — without cutting into the skin,” said Yimei Huang from the University of British Columbia in Canada.
It could be used to treat any structure of the body that can be reached by light and requires precise treatment, including nerves or blood vessels in the skin, eye, brain or other vital structures, researchers said.
“For diagnosing and scanning diseases like skin cancer, this could be revolutionary,” said Harvey Lui, professor at the University of British Columbia.
The study shows that the device allows imaging of living tissue up to about one millimetre in depth using an ultrafast infrared laser beam.
Researchers said that this microscope, however, is different from previous technology due to its capability to not only digitally scan living tissue, but also treat the tissue by intensifying the heat produced by the laser.
“We can alter the pathway of blood vessels without impacting any of the surrounding vessels or tissues,” said Lui. The researchers also said that their aim is to make multiphoton microscope technology more versatile while also increasing its precision. “We wanted to be able to identify what was happening under the skin from many different angles and to have the capability of imaging different body sites,” said Haishan Zeng from the University of British Columbia.
Developments of a miniature version of the telescope that could be used to perform microscopic examinations and treatment during endoscopy are also underway, researchers said.
“We are not only the first to achieve fast video-rate imaging that enables clinical applications, but also the first to develop this technology for therapeutic uses,” said Zeng.