Back in 2017 Vladimir Zharov – a scientist at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences – highlighted the advantages of laser technology in both diagnosing and treating certain diseases. Now, according to his new paper which was published in Science Translational Medicine, laser technology is successfully being tried and tested at treating cancer.
According to Zharov laser technology is capable of targeting and destroying cancer cells – all from outside of the skin in a safe way.
The laser works by targeting particular cancerous cells (known as CTCs) before they have the chance to spread. Once targeted, the laser is capable of heating these cells – even as they race through the subjects veins – and heat them. Heating these CTCs (which absorb more energy than regular cells) eventually causes them to collapse. These circulating tumour cells are responsible for most cancer-related deaths; the cells from one tumour will fall away and spread to another part of the body and start its own tumour.
The real-time targeting and accuracy of this system when it comes to CTCs travelling through the bloodstream is impressive. As the cell is heated, it releases sound waves. This photoacoustic effect is picked up by an ultrasound transducer which can then detect when these dangerous cells are travelling through the body and aid in the targeting of the laser.
Whats also surprising is the teams current results; when 28 people with cancer were tested, the system was able to detect these cells in 27.