Zapping Individual Cancer Cells

July 9, 2008 | Source: Technology Review

Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have patented a laser microscalpel that allows a surgeon to operate on tissue one cell at a time, precisely targeting disease while leaving healthy surrounding cells alive.

The device combines two technologies–a femtosecond laser and two-photon fluorescence microscopy–into a single miniaturized, flexible probe. The probe can target single cells in three-dimensional space, penetrating up to 250 micrometers into tissue.

The probe could be a significant advance for endoscopic surgery that requires high precision, such as destroying cancer cells scattered throughout brain tissue or operating on delicate tissue like vocal cords without damaging them.