Researchers at MIT have developed an imaging system that can be deployed to find tiny tumours deep within the body. These can be as small as a couple of cells. The researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have named it ‘Dolphin’. The system relies on near-infrared light that tracks a 0.1-millimetre fluorescent probe that was sent through the digestive tract of a living mouse. It can also detect a signal to a tissue depth of eight centimetres which is far deeper than any available biomedical optical imaging technique.
Neelkanth Bardhan, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and one of the lead authors of the study along with his colleagues hope to use their imaging technology for early diagnosis of ovarian and other types of cancers that are currently difficult to detect until late stages. The current methods have several limitations that make them useless during diagnosis in the early stages.
Bardhan also added that in terms of practical applications this technique will allow doctors to non-invasively track a 0.1-millimetre-sized tumour that is fluorescently-labelled. This is a cluster of about a few hundred cells.