The biocavity laser
It is these changes - a kind of beefing-up of the criminal forces - that Gourley's device, called a biocavity laser, detects.
A nano-thin layering of gallium aluminum arsenide combinations send up numerous tiny beams from a small cross-sectional generating area. These beams are reinforced or thwarted by the position and density of the mitochondria.
"The pictures we get from normal and cancer cells are very different," says Gourley. "Mitochondria conspire to cluster around the nucleus and work together to supply energy to the healthy, functioning cell. In contrast, the mitochondria in the cancer cell sit all over, isolated and balled up in a quiescent, non-functioning state. Apparently, the rapidly growing cancer cells derive energy from an alternative source such as free glucose in the cell."
Fortunately, the mitochondrion is nearly the same size as the light wavelength of about 800 nanometers, a frequency otherwise little absorbed by the body. Because of this close match, the laser is exquisitely sensitive to subtle changes in the mitochondria size and effects of clustering. To date, the research team has found that 90 to 95 percent of light scatter generated is from optical properties of mitochondria.
Working with UCSD
According to Bob Naviaux, professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego and co-director of its Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center, "What's attractive about this novel optical method for identifying cancer cells is it's a very rapid and general method that potentially can be applied to canc
Source:DOE/Sandia National Laboratories