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Nanotubes are beacons in cancer-imaging technique

Bathing a patient in LED light may someday offer a new way to locate tumors, according to Rice University researchers.

The spectral triangulation system developed by Rice chemist Bruce Weisman and his colleagues is intended to pinpoint targeted cancer tumors tagged with antibody-linked carbon nanotubes. It is described in a paper in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale.

Because the absorption of short-wave infrared light in tissues varies with its wavelength, spectral analysis of light coming through the skin can reveal the depth of tissue through which that light has passed. This allows the three-dimensional coordinates of the nanotube beacon to be deduced from a small set of noninvasive optical measurements.

Picture of imaging method using strong light from LED
A new Rice University method for medical imaging uses strong light from an LED array and an avalanche photodiode detector to pinpoint the location of tumors that have been tagged by antibody-targeted carbon nanotubes. The method can detect fluorescence from single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) through up to 20 millimeters of tissue
Image Credit: Weisman Lab/Rice University