Light Pulses Monitor Tissues in Real Time Using New Microscopy Technique


A microscope. / Photo by: Konstantin Kolosov via Shutterstock


A recent microscopy technique has been developed by the researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technique will enable live monitoring of tissues for biomedical research, diagnostics, and treatment of diseases.

The technique has been named as Simultaneous Label-Free Autofluorescence Multi-Harmonic Microscopy. It utilizes multiple pulses of light to simultaneously capture images in different wavelengths in a precise manner. Unlike with other microscopy techniques, SLAM does not require any chemicals or dyes and only depends on light energy, which allows it to track tissues in real time without the risk of causing damage.

Scientists can use this method to study the many aspects of biochemical processes in living cells and tissues. It is also a potential diagnostic tool to effectively monitor the progression of diseases, including cancer.

“Monitoring that process can help us better understand cancer progression, and in the future could lead to better diagnosis of how advanced a tumor is and better therapeutic approaches aimed at halting the progression,” explained Sixian You, the first author of the study.

In their study, the researchers tested SLAM to observe mammary tumors in rat models. They also observed the condition of the surrounding tissue. They found that the ecosystem of tumors is different in real time. One of their discoveries is that the tumors are capable of recruiting healthy cells and converting them into cancerous ones. Another thing they discovered is that some components in tissues like blood vessels and collagen support the growth of the tumors. Their observation also revealed that tumor cells and surrounding cells release vesicles or tiny transport packages to be absorbed by other cells.

“We know the tumor is there, but tumors support a whole ecosystem in the tissue. They recruit healthy cells to support them. SLAM allows us to have a comprehensive picture of this ever-evolving tumor microenvironment at subcellular, molecular, and metabolic levels in living animals and human tissue,” added You.

The research team is planning to apply their technique to compare cancer and healthy tissues among rats and humans. But their focus will be the activity of the vesicles and its relationship with cancer aggression.