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St Andrews hoping to shine new light on diagnosing major diseases

Researchers at St Andrews are hoping to develop laser-based methods to diagnose disease. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Researchers at St Andrews are hoping to develop laser-based methods to diagnose disease. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

RESEARCHERS at the University of St Andrews are hoping to develop new laser-based methods to more quickly and accurately diagnose major diseases.

They will work on creating new light probes which could save lives by detecting potentially life-threatening diseases, including skin cancer, at an earlier stage.

The work is part of an £8.4 million international project run by FAMOS - a world leading multi-disciplinary team of seven leading academic health institutions.

Professor Kishan Dholakia, Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr Tomas Cizmar, Research Fellow in the School of Medicine will lead the St Andrews team .

They will draw on the University’s world leading expertise in Raman analysis - obtaining information through light scattering from molecules - similar to optical fingerprints - and optical beam shaping.

The Scottish-based team will examine the light scattering ‘signature’ changes between healthy and cancerous cells and tissue, that are subtle but can be picked up and analysed.

Prof Dholakia said: “ The light scattering changes may be seen very early in the development of a disease, which would allow doctors or clinicians to use this to pinpoint the location of tumours at a very early stage.

“In turn, this would allow the application of treatment at a point in the disease cycle which could lead to the reduction of recurrence.

“It is very exciting to be part of FAMOS in this very important and challenging topic for human health.”

FAMOS hopes to develop a new generation of advanced lasers, methods and light sources, which they expect will be able to deliver dramatic advances to the early diagnosis and, ultimately, treatment of major diseases including Macular Degeneration - a potentially devastating condition which can lead to loss of vision in older adults due to damage to the retina.

 

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