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Stanford researcher discusses enhancing imaging methods with nanotechnology in NIH podcast

In the latest episode of the NIH Research Radio podcast, Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, provides an overview of ongoing research to combine nanotechnology and imaging methods to improve early detection and treatment of cancer.

During the segment, Gambhir discusses how nanotechnology can increase the accuracy of MRI, CT and PET scans and the potential to use nanoparticles both in diagnosing and treating tumors. When asked about a recent nanotechnology breakthrough in cancer imaging, he said:

We have, in development as part of our own nanocenter, particles that are made out of gold that go into the bowel to detect colorectal cancer. But the way the gold helps us to detect the colorectal cancer is that we use a fundamentally new way of imaging called Raman spectroscopy, and the gold acts as an amplifier to produce a very heavy or strong Raman signal from the gold particle after it has latched onto a colorectal cancer. So right now, flat lesions especially might be entirely missed by the endoscopist who might be doing screening for colorectal cancer, but by having the gold nanoparticles light up literally where the cancer, including flat lesions, might be hiding in the bowel, now the hope is that the endoscopist will be able to act on a lesion they would have otherwise missed.

So this strategy, in this case, involves a nanoparticle, one made out of gold. It involves an imaging strategy, which is not MRI, not PET, not SPECT, not CT, not ultrasound. It is called Raman imaging, and really this imaging is only possible with a nanoparticle. That is, without a nanoparticle, Raman imaging is just too insensitive. So there are many examples like this where the nanoparticles are enabling significant signal and actually enabling entirely new kinds of imaging technologies that can work with the human body that previously could not have worked because the nanoparticles were not there to produce the right signals for those imaging technologies.

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