Scottish scientists have developed a system of lasers that melt away cancer cells without damaging normal healthy cells.
Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is carrying on the long and celebrated tradition of Scottish medical breakthroughs nearly a hundred years after physician Alexander Fleming isolated penicillin. The research in the laser tech was funded by a £1.2 million ($1.6 million( grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd led the project, which he told Sky News successfully eliminated colorectal cancer cells in lab tests.
"We proved in the lab that our laser system can remove cancer cells in a way that restricts damage to the surrounding, healthy cells—within the width of a human hair," he said.
"We're building on our understanding of lasers in colorectal cancer surgery towards clinical application, and working on adapting it for brain, head, and neck cancers, where it could have huge benefits for patients," he added.
The technique involves firing the laser in pulses, each measuring about one trillionth of a second, thus preventing the transfer of heat to surrounding tissues.