Earlier this week, a group of surgeons tested glasses that may well transform the way medicine addresses cancer. Coupled with fluorescent ink and special lighting, the glasses are seemingly able to distinguish cancerous cells from healthy ones by making the cancerous cells appear blue to the operating surgeon.
In the process, the patient is injected with fluorescent dye in the area near the cancer. Under the lighting, the cancer cells glow blue, with more concentrated clusters appearing as a lighter shade.
The technology was developed by researchers at St. Louis’ Washington University. As Science Daily notes, the process is still so new that its inventors have yet to actually give it a name.
The technology is still very much in the trial phase, having moved on from testing in rodents. And the involved parties are still tossing around words like “theoretically” to describe the device’s potential. But the results thus far are pretty promising.
Cancer cells have proved difficult to detect, even with the use of magnification. This means that even the most experienced surgeon can potentially remove too much or can miss an affected area altogether. The latter scenario means more surgery for the patient.
Conversations about the use of wearable technology, like these glasses, during surgery have been heating up in recent months. Google Glass, for example, has the potential to help surgeons better monitor patients and live-stream videos for educational purposes.
Of course, the use of any technology during surgery has to contend with plenty of regulations before mainstream adoption. The team behind the cancer glasses is working on FDA approval for the color marker being used in trials.
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