Using coded nanoparticles, a research team has developed a method to detect and diagnose cancers.
In its current level of laboratory testing, the method has been successful in detecting multiple forms of breast cancer in mice, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
"Currently, for diagnosis of many diseases such as cancer, they rely on medical imaging but ultimately need to take tissue out for testing. We would like to move that to a different approach using optical imaging," co-author Yiqing Lu from Macquarie University in Australia said.
"This technique has the potential to provide a low-invasive method of determining if breast cancer is present, as well as the form of it, without the need to take tissue samples via biopsy," joint-lead author Fan Zhang from Fudan University added.
Light absorbing and scattering elements such as blood, muscle and cartilage produce too much interference making it difficult to determine if a range of disease biomarkers are present, suggests the study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The research team's solution was to engineer special nanoparticles which emit light for a set period of time.
"It is the duration of the light-emission and the biomarker reaction to this timed amount of light that produces a clearly identifiable molecular signature. This enables high-contrast optical biomedical imaging that can detect multiple disease biomarkers all at one time," Yiqing Lu said.