New laser system can remove cancer without damaging healthy tissue

Scientists have developed a new laser system that can potentially revolutionise cancer treatment

A laser system based around ultrafast picosecond lasers that deliver energy in a series of pulses that are one trillionth of a second long is being worked on at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded £1.2 million to develop the treatment under the lead of Professor Jonathan Shephard.

“We proved in the lab that our laser system can remove cancer cells in a way that restricts damage to the surrounding, healthy cells – within the width of a human hair,” Professor Shephard said.

Unlike current surgical tools, this new system with short laser pulses does not allow time for heat to burn the surrounding tissue, explained Professor Shephard.

Over the next three years, the scientists will also focus on developing a optical fibre-based system that can target and remove cancer cells two orders of magnitude smaller than current technology.

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