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Laser Surgery Probe Targets Individual Cancer Cells

Source: Dailytech

New laser probe will enable surgeons to zap away cancer and other dangerous cells, leaving the healthy completely unharmed.

Femtosecond lasers are a relatively recent advance in laser technology, but they are advancing quickly. The University of Missouri’s UUL, or ultra-fast, ultra-intense laser is a femtosecond pulse laser. Some of the medical purposes the creators envisioned were zapping cancer cells without harming healthy tissue and treating tooth decay with the same type of results.

Adela Ben-Yakar at the University of Texas at Austin has taken the track seriously. Her work on a new probe-based laser system has been published in the June 23 issue of Optics Express. To get away from large, bulky lasers that are difficult to use in delicate situations, Ben-Yakar developed a flexible probe to deliver the femtosecond pulses her laser produces.

The probe itself is presently about 15mm in diameter, but Ben-Yakar hopes to further reduce the size to 5mm, allowing the laser to be used like endoscopes in laproscopic surgeries.

The magic in the probe is the specially developed fiber optic cable that carries the infrared pulses from the laser unit to its target. The cable itself is responsible for condensing slightly longer and weaker pulses into more powerful bursts at the emission end. This helps protect the fiber cable from the power of the laser’s full potential while letting the full potential reach the target. The laser focuses light so keenly that it is able to pinpoint cancer cells, destroy them, and leave the surrounding cells completely unharmed.

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