Utilising a novel technology called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, or LIBS, university engineers and biomedical scientists are seeking to precisely distinguish malignant and normal cells in real time by inserting a single optical fiber microprobe directly into suspicious tissue for a cancer diagnosis, including breast cancer.

MSU is seeking a patent for the new technology devised by team leader Jagdish P. Singh, a research professor with the Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL) and Shane Burgess, an assistant professor of basic science in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Development and testing of more sensitive and more rapid screening techniques should lead to further improvements, especially in younger women whose breast density may preclude adequate screening by conventional mammography," added Burgess. "Furthermore, surgical interventions that are less radical have a significant positive impact on the patient's emotional and psychological well-being."

"The MSU team's vision is that a small optical fiber would be directly inserted into suspicious tissue," said former DIAL director John Plodinec. "Laser light passed down the fiber would stimulate emission that would be detected back through the fiber.

"Algorithms then would be applied to the signal to classify the tissue as malignant or non-malignant," he added. "This could eliminate tissue extraction from the breast and provide much more rapid feedback to the pathologist."

Singh said breast lumps can be found by self-examination or a physical exam by a medical practitioner, with primary diagnosis traditionally determined by ultrasound and/or mammography tests. A breast biopsy usually is needed, however, to determine whether a lump is malignant or benign, he added.

MEDICA.de; Source: Mississippi State University