It’s the dreaded letter C. Shivers run down my spine just thinking about it. This is due to the fact that it is not only tough to treat but also invasive to diagnose. Biopsies sometimes necessitate extensive wounds that create scars.
Cancer-detecting contact lenses that are non-invasive
That’s why it was so amazing to learn that a group of researchers was working on non-invasive contact lenses that may detect and possibly even cure cancer.
Yangzhi Zhu, a biomedical engineer at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation, a non-profit research organization in California, is the study’s lead author. According to Inverse, the new invention is “quite interesting compared to the other current techniques in this space.”
Before you get too enthusiastic about the technology’s advancement, keep in mind that it has only been tested in lab cells thus far. However, if it is found to be safe, it could be tested in humans.
How does it function?
The device detects exosomes, which are biological waste seen in tears and are suspected to signify tumor growth anywhere in the body.
The lenses include an antibody that can recognize and hook onto another antibody located on these exosomes. When these two antibodies come into contact with each other, they turn red.
The existence of tumor cells is indicated by the appearance of this red color. The effects are so intense that they may be seen with the naked eye.
A quick and beneficial option
Needless to say, this method has numerous advantages, including speed. Unlike traditional blood tests, biopsies, or CT scans, which might take several days or even weeks to give a diagnosis, the lenses provide results in 30 minutes.
The procedure is also painless because no incisions or surgery are required.
What is the next step for this promising device? Zhu and his colleagues are currently working on a study that will put the device to the test on rabbits. The new research could demonstrate the safety of contact lenses and allow them to be tested on humans.
If everything goes as planned, Zhu and his colleagues expect the contact lens will be useful for identifying disorders other than cancer, such as some autoimmune diseases. They may potentially be used to administer medications as a treatment for diseases rather than only as a diagnostic tool in the future.
“The microchambers can not only support a [disease] sensor but also serve as a carrier for medications and vaccines,” Zhu explained to Inverse. “This can also be used therapeutically.”
The findings does cause one to reconsider wearing contact lenses. Previously primarily employed to improve people’s vision, the new devices may have diagnostic and therapeutic applications that few could have predicted.
So, the next time you put on your contact lenses, remember what a marvel this technology is and how far it has come. This could make all of your tears worthwhile.
The findings were first reported in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.