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Optical techniques show continued promise in detecting pancreatic cancer
Date:3/2/2009

light through a series of lenses and filters onto the specimen -- cells from the duodenum. The light refracts through the outermost layer of tissues and scatters into a spectrograph, a device that separates a beam of white light into its component wavelengths and measures them. An image sensor captures the result, then a computer analyzes the pattern of light scattering, looking for the "fingerprint" of carcinogenesis in the nanoarchitecture of the cells.

The technology makes use of a biological phenomenon known as the "field effect," a hypothesis that suggests the genetic and environmental milieu that results in a neoplastic lesion in one area of an organ should be detectable throughout the organ and even in neighboring tissue.

If similar results are found when the technique is applied to other organs, the method could have broad impact on the timely treatment of breast cancer, lung cancer and other forms of cancer.

The original technology was supported by the National Science Foundation; clinical trials were supported by the National Institutes of Health and the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

"I'm very excited about the Backman group's work," says Leon Esterowitz, NSF biophotonics program director. "I believe these results are very promising, and the technique has a high probability of success for not just detecting early pancreatic cancer but also pre-cancer, so doctors can go ahead and treat the patient while there's still a chance to defeat the disease. For pancreatic cancer, this could lead to not only an excellent prognosis, but perhaps even a cure."

In a related study published last month in the OSA journal Optics Letters, Backman, Roy and Brand reported promising results for another optical technique called partial wave spectroscopy. That technology measures how light propagates through a cell in a single dimension, allowing researchers to detect nanoscopic changes to the interior architecture of a cel
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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