Indian American develops tool to image tumours
Apr 11, 2008 - 10:30:35 AM

New York, April 1 - A team of researchers led by Indian American Sanjiv Gambhir has developed a new type of imaging system capable of picturing tumours to a precision of a trillionth of a meter.

The new system, which uses Raman spectroscopy, will be of great use to doctors who are currently hampered by the limited extent to which they can see such tumours.

Using a microscope modified to detect Raman nanoparticles, Gambhir's team was able to see targets a thousand times smaller than what is currently obtainable.

Signals from Raman spectroscopy are stronger and longer-lived than other available methods, and the type of particles used in this method can simultaneously transmit information about several molecular targets.

'We can measure one or two things at a time, but with this, we can now likely see 10, 20, 30 things at once,' said Gambhir, director of the Molecular Imaging Programme at Stanford University Medical Centre and also head of nuclear medicine.

Gambhir compared Raman spectroscopy work to the development of positron emission tomography - over two decades ago. PET is now a routine imaging technique that uses radioactive molecules to generate a three-dimensional image.

'Nobody understood the impact of PET then,' Gambhir said, referring to its discovery. 'Ten or 15 years from now, people should appreciate the impact of this.'

Raman spectroscopy is named after physicist C.V. Raman, whose 1928 discovery of a radiation effect that bears his name - won him the 1930 Nobel Prize in physics.

Raman effect is created when light is shone on an object. Roughly one in 10 million photons bouncing off the object's molecules gains or loses energy, called Raman scattering. This scattering pattern, called a spectral fingerprint, is unique to each type of molecule and can be measured.

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