How many times have you been to the doctor and had that stupid wooden tongue depressor stuck in your face? Dry bland taste and the ever-present fear of splinters – no thanks. Are they even able to see anything worthwhile?
There may soon be a replacement that could actually be used to screen for oral cancers. The lab of Dr John X J Zhang at the University of Texas in Austin have created a portable mini microscope with resolution good enough to identify early-stage cancer cells. Their work was recently published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.
Now, being a biologist – not an engineer – I couldn’t even begin to describe to you the mechanics of how this works. Go read the article if you’re interested in that. Apparently it uses something called a micromirror to focus a laser to scan areas of the sample.
With this, you can see under the surface layer of, say, the inside your mouth, and get what is being reported as very accurate 3D images of those cells. I guess 3D is all the rage now.
Anywho, this is really just a cool technology that’s going to dramatically ease the detection of yet another deadly cancer variety that goes unnoticed all too often. Better detection equals better survival, you know the drill.
No more biopsies…just say aah. Look around the mouth a bit, snap a couple images, look for nasty looking cells and prevent troubling situations from becoming life-threatening. Gotta be better than a popsicle stick, right?
Thanks & Gig ‘Em.