Subtle changes in tissue that is diseased – with for example early-stage cancer – can be detected by Raman spectroscopy, which analyses patterns of light scattered by the surface of an object, such as a human organ. A Raman device has been made small enough to fit onto an endoscope, a thin tube that is inserted into a patient for internal examination. Pictured, left, is the device attached to the tip of an endoscope and, right, being used to analyse the structure of the wall of the large intestine, or colon, from the scatter pattern of light shone from the endoscope. The scientists who developed the device say that greater sensitivity can be achieved if tissue is laced with glass-coated gold nanoparticles to enhance the scattering of light. They are now seeking regulatory approval to do this in patients.
Written by Mick Warwicker
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