Polymer nanoagents capable of ‘lighting up’ small areas of diseased tissues that standard methods fail to detect, have been developed by a research team headed by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

The nanoagents, called ‘semiconductor polymer nanoparticles’ (SPNs), have the potential to store light energy from sources such as near-infrared light, sunlight or even light from mobile phones, and this is followed by emitting long-lasting ‘afterglow light’.

The research team from NTU Singapore customized greatly sensitive SPNs in order to track down and then lock on to diseased tissues present in the body such as cancerous cells, sending back near-infrared signals which are received and then interpreted by conventional imaging equipment.

Doctors and scientists have more time to analyze test results, as the nanoagents continue self-illuminating and their light intensity reduces by half only after six minutes.

On the other hand, if stored at -20 oC, the sample will be able to maintain its results for a month, thus becoming more convenient for other diagnostic experts to understand and review the results at a later time.

The method, when tested in mice, provided results 20 to 120 times more sensitive than existing optical imaging methods and 10 times faster in screening diseased tissues.

Image Credit:  NTU Singapore

Recent News