A probe of light to look inside organs and tissues – Corriere.it

From the beam of light to diagnosis: a non-invasive technique opens up new perspectives in the diagnostic field without resorting to invasive methods. The method is based on DNA technology nanoprobes and is able to “scan” inside organs and tissues of the human body without the need for surgery or more delicate procedures for the patient, and becomes useful in those cases in which the systems already existing ones (such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging) are not effective. The discovery is based on a study published in the journal Nature Communications, led by Giancarlo Ruocco coordinator of the Center for Life Nano- & Neuro-Science – CLN²S of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Rome together with Marco Leonetti, researcher at the Institute of Nanotechnology of the National Research Council (Cnr-Nanotec) of Rome and affiliated with IIT, with the collaboration of colleagues from the National Institute of Metrological Research (INRiM) and the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy (LENS).

The simulation in the laboratory

Researchers from IIT and CNR simulated the diffusion of light in the human body in the laboratory, using zinc oxide, a reflective and biocompatible material. In this system, the nanoprobe, 10 thousand times smaller than the diameter of a hair, has proved capable of measuring the deformation of the local properties of light. The system is illuminated with green light, which the nanoprobe detects and re-emits in turn. Reading the fluctuations in time and space of the fluorescence can give answers on the nature of the surrounding tissue. An important result that represents the first step for future early diagnostic systems of macroscopic tissue alterations, tumors or some neurodegenerative diseases related to the accumulation of protein aggregates, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Future prospects

«The nanoprobe is an object commonly used in microscopy» explains Marco Leonetti, first author of the paper and researcher of Cnr-Nanotec affiliated with IIT. “It acts like a satellite sent into space that collects information in its vicinity and transmits it to Earth. Thus allowing to have information in vivo, avoiding more invasive interventions ». “With this technique we can see what happens inside the tissues by reconstructing the system based on the refraction angle of the light” concludes Giancarlo Ruocco, coordinator of the Center for Life Nano- & Neuro-Science of the Italian Institute of Technology in Rome . “We can think of a future generation of biocompatible nanoprobes able to give us information on the onset of local alterations of the biological tissue in inaccessible areas as happens for some neurodegenerative diseases”.

July 7, 2021 (change July 7, 2021 | 12:03 pm)



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