Scientists based at the Univerisy of St Andrews in Scotland have used fibre-optic technology to heal wounds in the human body. Known as photochemical tissue bonding, this process has the potential to heal significant trauma and even assist with the treatment of tumors.
The research, conducted in parternship with Harvard University, is all about the use of light to stimulate healing. The process has actually been around for a little while, but it's only been used to treat superficial wounds - however, using biodegradable fibre-optics cables, the research team has been able to apply the technique to wounds much deeper inside the body.
Most current fibre-optic cables used in medicine are made of fine glass or plastic and have to be manually removed after surgery - these ones would pose no threat to the body and could be left to break down with no danger to the patient.
"A variety of optical techniques, such as photochemical tissue bonding and photodynamic therapy, require efficient delivery of light deep into tissues, but the current limited penetration of light in tissue constitutes a serious constraint in clinical use," comments professor Malte Gather from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews.
"Having biocompatible and bioabsorbable optical components may transform photomedicine from a discipline where light is predominantly applied externally, to a new paradigm based on tissue-integrated and precisely controlled delivery and collection of light."
The paper, which you can read here, has huge potential in the broad field of medicine, including the long-term treatment of cancer and the use of endoscopy.
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