Selective photothermolysis - US scientists on path towards 'fat seeking' laser
Apr 11, 2006 - 2:13:37 PM

Scientists in the US have developed a laser that can melt pig fat and possibly be used to treat heart disease, cellulite and acne in humans in the future.

Professor Rox Anderson and other researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital used pig fat and skin samples about two inches thick in their experiment and found that a laser is, for the first time, able to heat up fat in the body without harming the overlying skin, reported the online edition of BBC News.

Using the Free-Electron Laser at selected wavelengths, they were able to heat the fat up, which was then broken down and excreted by the body, it said.

Selective photothermolysis - heating tissues with light - could have medical applications in the future, including for treating acne, Anderson said.

The root cause of acne is the lipid-rich sebaceous gland, which sits a few millimetres below the surface of the skin.

"We want to be able to selectively target the sebaceous gland and this research shows that, if we can build lasers at this region of the spectrum, we may be able to do that, Anderson said.

Cellulite and body fat could also be targeted as well as the fatty plaques that form in arteries, leading to heart attacks, he said.

"We can envision a fat-seeking laser, and we're heading down that path now," he added.

However, researchers said it would be several years before the technique could be tested on humans.

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