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Microscope Can Diagnose And Treat Skin Cancer, Other Diseases Without Cutting Skin

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Scientists have come up with a special microscope that can not only quickly diagnose various diseases such as skin cancer, but also perform ultra-precise surgery without even cutting the skin.

With this high-tech multiphoton excitation microscope, doctors will be able to observe, diagnose, and treat disease with incredible speed and precision — even in the most delicate parts of the body where nearly superhuman precision is necessary. As the scientists behind it describe in a news release, it's a "revolutionary" technique that can change the medical landscape for diseases such as skin cancer.

A Cutting-Edge Laser Microscope

In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers explain how they developed this specialized type of multiphoton excitation microscope, which is capable of scanning tissue quickly and performing surgery to treat abnormalities without penetrating the skin.

This cutting-edge device uses an ultrafast infrared laser beam to achieve the imaging of living tissue up to about one millimeter in depth. Then, when the laser's heat is intensified, the researchers are able to treat the tissue as well.

With this special microscope, medical professionals will be able to detect the exact location of an abnormality, then diagnose and treat it instantly. It could be used anywhere in the body that is reachable by light, especially on body parts that require utmost precision, such as nerves, blood vessels, brain, and eyes, among others.

"We can alter the pathway of blood vessels without impacting any of the surrounding vessels or tissues," explained study coauthor Harvey Lui, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia and a dermatologist at BC Cancer. "For diagnosing and scanning diseases like skin cancer, this could be revolutionary."

Behind The Development Of The Device

According to the authors, they set out to improve multiphoton microscope technology and create a more versatile, more precise instrument.

Senior author Haishan Zeng, a professor at UBC, explained that the team wanted their device to have the ability of identifying what's happening under the skin from different angles and imaging various sites in the body. Upon achieving this, they wondered whether it would be possible to create a device that could both diagnose and treat patients by just turning up the laser's power.

Incredibly, their experiment worked.

"We are not only the first to achieve fast video-rate imaging that enables clinical applications, but also the first to develop this technology for therapeutic uses," said Zeng.

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