Promising results from animal models show potential for further clinical trials.
A China-Australia research collaboration has resulted in a revolutionary new imaging contrast agent, with the potential for doctors see more deeply and clearly inside the body than ever before as they conduct internal surgeries.
Scientists from Fudan University in China and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), combined forces to create the agent which so far has been tested on mice with very promising results.
"It's really about how we use optical agents to get better resolution and deeper penetration through the body," study senior author and director of the UTS Institute for Biomedical Materials and Devices, Professor Dayong Jin said.
The agent reacts to light in a way that when introduced to the human body should give doctors and surgeons a much clearer picture of what is occurring internally.
"From a medical point of view, this is very good for optical guided real time surgery. On tumors for example, the contrast agent will show the boundary between the tumor and healthy tissue with much higher resolution," Jin said.
While the method is yet to be tested on humans, Jin said it will allow doctors to use light rather than high intensity lasers to illuminate what they are operating on inside the body, making it much safer and less invasive for patients.
The partnership between Fudan University and UTS resulted when Jin travelled to China around five years ago, beginning a process of discussions to determine how the institutions can work together and combine their specialties.
UTS specialized in the physics side of design and detection, while scientists at Fudan manufactured the material and conducted animal testing.
"This research is not by accident, you know, this is a very logical design and progress in the past couple of years," Jin said.
The next step is to undergo further medical research, conducting ethical and procedural trials, to take this potentially revolutionary technology from the realms of physics, to lifesaving technology.
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