Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have developed a microscopic probe capable of measuring temperatures while inside the body. Study findings are published in the April 15 edition of Optics Letters.
The tiny fiber-optic probe, which can take images and measure temperature within the body, was developed to assist treatment to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain. While this is the first version of the probe, researchers hope to eventually use it to develop thermal treatment for cancers as well.
"With an outer diameter of only 130 microns, the probe is as thin as a single strand of human hair," said Jiawen Li, a researcher with the Adelaide Medical School, ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics (CNBP) and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS). "This means it can be delivered deep inside the body in a minimally invasive way. It also allows us to see and record physiological data in real time that we weren't able to access before."
The microscopic imaging and sensing probe could improve the current understanding of how hyperthermia develops in the brain due to drug use. The probe also has the potential to optimize the thermal treatment of cancer by measuring temperature and sending images to clinicians. Future versions of the probe may include measurements such pH values, oxygen saturation and accumulation of fat in arteries.
"Using the probe's imaging function during experiments, our medical collaborators would be able to see deep inside the brain of a living organism and guide the placement of the probe to the right brain region,” said Li. “Then, they can use the probe's built-in thermometer to monitor any changes to the local temperature of that region.