Fireflies Shed New Light

Article ID: 510484

Released: 15-Mar-2005 5:50 PM EST

Source Newsroom: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Newswise — Even CT scanners cannot detect tiny clumps of malicious cells that may eventually develop into a cancerous tumor. But new imaging technologies such as bioluminescence, using light-emitting substances from such sources as jellyfish and fireflies, show promise of radically changing medical diagnosis from a structural to a molecular basis. While they did not develop the technology, UAB scientists Kurt Zinn, D.V.M, Ph.D., and Tandra Chaudhuri, Ph.D., a husband-wife team, have developed new detection instruments to take advantage of it. "When bioluminescent enzymes are targeted to attach to cancer cells, instruments we have designed have been able to detect clumps no larger than 0.1 mm in diameter." This equipment is ideal for superficial conditions such as melanomas. Their most recent scanner can reach a depth of 15 mm.


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