SYDNEY, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists from La Trobe University in the city of Melbourne have developed a new and more effective way to detect certain types of cancer at earlier stages.
The study, published in the Nature and released on Thursday, showed how the use of an "innovative microscope slide" called NanoMslide could make cancer cells and other diseased cells stand out in "striking colour contrast".
Project lead Prof. Brian Abbey said the breakthrough came after five long years of developing the technology with co-inventor Dr. Eugeniu Balaur, expert in advanced molecular imaging at La Trobe University.
Abbey compared the breakthrough to moving from a black and white television picture to full color.
"Recent breakthroughs in nanotechnology have allowed us to manipulate the interaction of light with biological tissue so that abnormal cells appear to have a different colour to healthy ones."
He said current methods of identifying cells can often lead to misdiagnosis and often impede pathologists' ability to catch cancer early, vital to its effective treatment.
"It's like finding a needle in a haystack with so few cancer cells," said Abbey.
Associate Professor Belinda Parker from the Melbourne-based Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre said they would begin to trial the technology to aid the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
"When I first looked at a tissue under the microscope on the NanoMslide, I was incredibly excited," said Parker.
"For the first time I saw cancer cells just popping up at me. They were a different colour from the surrounding tissue, and it was very easy to distinguish them from surrounding cells."
Parker was hopeful that the technology could have far-reaching benefits when it comes to the diagnosis of all types of cancer.
"Based on our preliminary findings with the NanoMslide, we think this platform could be really useful in early breast cancer diagnosis, but also in other cancers where we're really just trying to pick up a few cancer cells in a complex tissue or a blood sample."
La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Prof. John Dewar said the ground-breaking research highlights the vital role universities play in innovation and the need for more industry collaboration.
"As this remarkable invention translates from a brilliant concept into what could be a life-saving solution, La Trobe has demonstrated what can be achieved when exceptional research innovation comes together with strong industry partners." Enditem