Posted by Renee Schmidt

The Femtosecond laser, a new way to treat brain cancer, was developed by a group of scientists. This new laser technology will target specific cancerous regions.

This is a world full of laser beams. From the garment industry to barcode scanners, so many things around us depend on laser technology that whenever a new advancement is made in the field, it creates a buzz. Now scientists have taken yet another step, making lasers more effective for life on this planet. A new discovery at University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) has proven yet again that lasers can help us increase life expectancy; this time by removing cancerous tumors. A group of scientists involved with the research include Christian Parigger, associate professor of physics, and Jacqueline Johnson, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering, as well as Robert Splinter of Splinter Consultants.

Typically, lasers have been used to assist with cancer treatments. Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Argon, and Neodymium lasers are very much a part of every top cancer treatment facility in the country. CO2 laser works effectively for cutting through skin tissue without causing too much bleeding. On the other hand, the Argon laser is excellent for treating skin and eye problems due to its short-range accuracy. The Neodymium laser helps doctors reach areas otherwise impossible to operate without causing a lot of bleeding. A new Femtosecond laser goes further, with its ability to focus and reach cancerous areas.

The Femtosecond laser focuses on a specific region to find a tumor. It then maps the tumor and attacks the infected area. Intense radiation allows for keeping focus on a well-defined region. Once the laser is focused on the area, its intensity can be increased to burn off the tumor. This method can also be used for irradiating the cancerous region.

This laser technology will replace invasive surgery with an outpatient procedure. It will also be more accurate than other available methods, since its efficiency permits for accurate location of a cancerous region. Also, it has a precise focus characteristic, which will enable doctors to heat up only the area needing treatment. Current laser treatments for cancer often damage healthy tissue while treating the affected area just because it loses spatial and temporal focus. This is not a problem with the Femtosecond laser.

The technology will help brain cancer patients, allowing doctors to scan through and permeate thin bone and find the cancerous region below the skull. Since the procedure uses non-invasive techniques, however, it does risk damaging healthy brain area by overheating or inaccurate focus. However, it’s preferred to invasive treatments, which have their own risks. Further, the Femtosecond lasers are known for their accuracy, making an ideal case for a solution to the long-standing problem of non-invasive surgery of brain.

Until now, many patients with cancerous areas in the brain were beyond help, since surgery could be risky. With the Femtosecond laser, many patients may now be able to get rid of their tumor and live a long life.

The new laser technology is still in the laboratory where intensive testing is being carried out. The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is planning to commercialize the product after successful clinical testing.