Lasers light way to 3-D imaging in Purdue lab

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University scientists developing a new imaging technology have created the world's first "visual fly-throughs" of a living tumor.

The technique, which uses lasers, holograms and special detectors, offers promise for a new kind of medical imaging based on light instead of tissue-damaging X-rays, said David Nolte, a professor of physics at Purdue.

His research team recently used the new technique, called optical coherence imaging, to take a video of the insides of a cancerous rat tumor.

"This is the first time that anybody has ever done a holographic fly-through of a living tumor," Nolte said.

The tumor was not viewed while inside a rat, but was cultured and kept alive in a nutrient medium.

Optical coherence imaging offers numerous possible applications, including diagnostic imaging for medicine and industry. The method might allow scientists to study how live tumors behave in real time, even how they react to experimental drugs.

"This is a proof of concept," Nolte said. "These are the very first images of their kind."

Findings about the work will be detailed in an oral paper to be presented May 23 during the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics in Long Beach, Calif. The paper will be presented by Ping Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue who authored the paper with Nolte, graduate student Mirela Mustata, John Turek, a professor of basic medical sciences, all from Purdue, and P.M.W. French, a physicist from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London.

Critical to optical coherence imaging is a semiconductor holographic film developed by the team. Many other imaging technologies require that specimens, such as tumors, be specially prepared and cut into pieces for examination, killing the tissue.

With optical coherence imaging, future medical researchers might use a joystick to interactively view living tissues, such as the internal

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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