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'Virtual biopsy' developed by Taiwanese team

'Virtual biopsy' developed by Taiwanese team

A local medical research team announced yesterday that they have developed a new cancer diagnosis technique called "virtual biopsy, " which uses femtosecond laser pulses to scan the human body without the pain and hazards involved in conventional needle biopsies.
The newly developed biopsy method can run 100 million scans per second, as well as generating up to three images every second, according to the team.
The immediate next steps of the team are to increase the scanning frequency and to combine the technique with endoscopes, in order to obtain biopsy images deep inside the body.
The virtual biopsy project is being funded by the National Health Research Institute, with a total budget of NT$9 million for the three-year term.
The new biopsy method utilizes Cr: forsterite laser to generate scanning beams at a center wavelength of 1230 nanometers and a pulse frequency of 100 femtoseconds, or one-ten trillionth of a second, Sun noted, adding that due to the extremely short duration of laser penetration, the pulse does not damage the tissue being observed.
Su explained that when passing through larger cells, laser pulses will turn into red-light; and while passing through smaller ones, the light expression will be blue-purple. All the light, received by a collecting device, can later be translated into biopsy images for diagnosis.
When it comes to conventional needle biopsies, Su said, the first problem is that the pain scares patients, adding that the needle sometimes brings cancer tissue residuals around, "contaminating" normal cells and thus accelerating metastasis.
The team has already tested the virtual biopsy method on mice and zebra fishes, and it has also made observations on zebra fish's cell nuclei, cell divisions, and blood capillaries, Su said, adding that all the animals "came out without a scratch."


Updated : 2021-10-18 03:41 GMT+08:00