Are LEDs the Newest Weapon Against Skin Cancer?

Paul Lilly

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) are exploring ways to image cancerous lesions using LEDs, according to a report in Science Daily.

What the scientists hope is that LEDs will advance a techniques for treating cancer called photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT involves injecting photosensitizing chemicals that absorb light into a tumor, which is then exposed to light. The chemicals generate oxygen radicals from the light energy, wiping out cancer cells in the process.

Towards that end, UC Irvine has designed a new device with an array of five different colors of LEDs that light up the skin with distinct intensity patterns. The resulting images reveal the biochemistry of the tissue.

"Through this imaging modality, it is now possible to assess how the therapeutic light will travel throughout the affected tissue, quantify the drug present within the lesion, and monitor its efficacy during treatment," says Rolf Saager, who works in the lab of Anthony Durkin a the Beckman Laser Institute at UC Irvine.

The hope is that this imaging technique will draw out a better map for targeting and optimizing photodynamic therapy for basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer.

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