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Researchers Develop New Optic Biopsy System For Early Liver Cancer Diagnosis

Researchers at the Orel State University in Russia have developed an optical biopsy system, which can differentiate between cancerous and healthy liver tissue.

Scientists hope that this discovery will make it easier to diagnose liver cancer at an early stage. Liver cancer is the sixth most commonly detected cancer around the world.

Commenting on the findings, Evgenil Zherebtsov, a member of the research team said, "The instrument is designed to be compatible with the needles currently used for liver biopsies. It could thus one-day help surgeons more precisely navigate the biopsy instrument to decrease the number of errors in taking tissue samples that are used for diagnosis."

The new device was developed after the researchers were informed by the surgeons they were collaborating with that it was very difficult to perform needle biopsies in exactly the right location. Early-stage tumors are hard to pinpoint when one is inserting a tiny hollow needle into the liver to acquire a tissue sample. If the needle is placed incorrectly and misses the tumor, it could lead to an incorrect diagnosis.

The new optical biopsy system developed by Russian researchers combines diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and lifetime fluorescence measurements to know markers related to cellular metabolism, which differs between healthy and cancerous cells. This optical biopsy could help surgeons see, in real-time, where the cancer is so that they can identify the best place to acquire a tissue sample.

Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy reveals tissue properties based on how they reflect light. Fluorescence lifetime analysis exposes tissues to a wavelength of light that creates fluorescence and then measures how long that fluorescence takes to fade. The timing of the fluorescence decay depends on the presence of molecules that are important in metabolism.

Another researcher in the study said, "Optical biopsy methods like the one we developed make it possible to differentiate healthy and tumor tissues with a high degree of accuracy. Although our system was specifically designed for use in abdominal surgery, our results show that similar technologies could be useful for other medical applications."

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