Researchers at the university of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a special microscope that could potentially be used to diagnose many diseases, including skin cancer, and perform precision surgery. The study was published in Science Advances on May 15, 2019.
The device is a special type of multi-photon excitation microscope that can use ultra-fast infrared lasaer pointer beams to image living tissue at a depth of about 1mm. The microscope differs from previous techniques in that it can not only digitally scan living tissue, but also process it by increasing the heat generated by the laser.
When used to treat skin diseases, the microscope allows medical professionals to pinpoint abnormalities, diagnose them and treat them immediately. It can be used to treat any area that requires very precise treatment, including nerves or blood vessels in the skin, eyes, brain or other important structures.
“Our technique allows us to quickly scan tissue and, when seeing suspicious or abnormal cell structures, perform ultra-precise surgery to selectively treat diseased tissue without cutting into the skin,” said Yimei Huang, co-lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in the department of dermatology and dermatology.
Study co-author Harvey Lui, professor of dermatology and dermatology at UBC, said: “we can change the path of blood vessels without affecting any surrounding blood vessels or tissues, which could be revolutionary for diagnosing and scanning diseases such as skin cancer.”
Next, the researchers hope to develop more applications of multiphoton microscopy, while improving its accuracy. The corresponding author, UBC dermatology, pathological physics professor Haishan Zeng said: “we hope that we can identify from various angles under the skin change is happening, and have the ability to imaging of different parts, once we do this, we may simply by increasing the laser power, the diagnostic equipment into a treatment equipment.”
The research team has been working with several UBC departments, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and ophthalmology, to develop different versions of the technology. The exploration includes the development of a miniature version that could be used for individual gastrointestinal endoscopy microscopy and non-surgical treatment.