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Nanotechnology provides an ultrasensitive, noninvasive molecular imaging system for living subjects

By combining Raman spectroscopy with surface-enhanced Raman scattering nanoparticles (see Wikipedia) and single-walled carbon nanotubes, Stanford scientists have applied nanotechnology to develop an ultrasensitive, noninvasive molecular imaging system. A major advantages of this new nanotech imaging method is the ability to visualize a number of different types of molecules simultaneously and to have the signal remain stable over time. Also, it should be useful during surgery in detecting “even the most minute malignant tissues”. Excerpts from a Stanford University press release, written by Mitzi Baker “Stanford researchers develop tool that ‘sees’ internal body details 1,000 smaller” (credit ScienceDaily):

Doctors’ quest to see what is happening inside a living body has been hampered by the limits on detecting tiny components of internal structures and events. Now a team of Stanford University School of Medicine researchers has developed a new type of imaging system that can illuminate tumors in living subjects—getting pictures with a precision of nearly one-trillionth of a meter.

This technique, called Raman spectroscopy, expands the available toolbox for the field of molecular imaging, said team leader Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, professor of radiology.

“This is an entirely new way of imaging living subjects, not based on anything previously used,” said Gambhir, who directs the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford. He said signals from Raman spectroscopy are stronger and longer-lived than other available methods, and the type of particles used in this method can transmit information about multiple types of molecular targets simultaneously.

“Usually we can measure one or two things at a time,” he said. “With this, we can now likely see 10, 20, 30 things at once.”

…First, they injected mice with the some of the nanoparticles. To see the nanoparticles, they used a special microscope that the group had adapted to view anesthetized mice exposed to laser light. The researchers could see that the nanoparticles migrated to the liver, where they were processed for excretion.

…A clinical trial is planned to test the gold nanoparticles in humans for possible use in conjunction with a colonoscopy to indicate early-stage colorectal cancer.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (abstract).
—Jim

2 Responses to “Nanotechnology provides an ultrasensitive, noninvasive molecular imaging system for living subjects”

  1. Ben Says:

    Um, this is very nice but their precision is not one trillionth of a meter – the best resolution reported (though not shown) in the PNAS paper is 500 micrometres. Unless there’s a further publication?

    The only value on the scale of 10^-12 in this paper is the minimum concentration detectable (8.125pM). Sounds like someone’s confused.

  2. Jim Lewis Says:

    I could not understand that either, and so I presumed it was some error in the reporting.
    –Jim

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