Nowhere to Hide

Come out, come out, wherever you are!  

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

To treat cancer, first you have to find it –but cancer likes to play hide-and-seek. What if we could spot it easily — like exploring a cave with a flashlight? 

Nozomi Nishizawa at Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues are lighting the way!  

The team injected human cancer cells into mice. Around seven weeks later, they shone a special polarized light onto the tissue samples. It’s the same technology in the glasses you use to watch real-D 3D movies! 

Cancerous cells have a unique structure, which alters how the light appears. So areas with cancer look very different from healthy regions. 

The researchers think this light could be added to the tip of an internal scope! Using this technique, scientists could gauge the depth of the cancer painlessly – just by shining the light. And that could lead to less painful surgical procedures to find cancer in the future. 

A searchlight for cancer — what a bright idea! 

Reference: Nishizawa, N, Al-Qadi, B, Kuchimaru, T. Angular optimization for cancer identification with circularly polarized light. J. Biophotonics. 2021; 14:e202000380.