OSA Logo LED device seems to have come into the forefront for treating skin cancer. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) assert that employment of LEDs can boost photodynamic therapy (PDT), a technique for treating cancer. In the process of PDT, photosensitizing chemicals absorbing light are probably injected into a tumor and then exposed to light.

It is assumed that generation of oxygen radicals from the light energy helps chemicals to destroy cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have apparently approved PDT in treating esophageal and lung cancer. A major obstacle that scientists are currently facing with the new LED device is the lack of a detailed imaging technique to target and assess the effectiveness of PDT. With the help of a spatial frequency domain imaging, a novel device with an array of five different colors of LEDs has been introduced. This device probably illuminates skin with distinct intensity patterns. It is suspected that the intensity patterns alter on the basis of the tissue structure and pigments in the skin. Accurate models of light propagation may produce images that reveal the biochemistry of the tissue.

Rolf Saager, working in the lab of Anthony Durkin at the Beckman Laser Institute at UC Irvine, affirmed, “Through this imaging modality, it is now possible to assess how the therapeutic light will travel throughout the affected tissue, quantify the drug present within the lesion and monitor its efficacy during treatment.”

In order to examine spatial frequency domain imaging system, experts imaged a small population of skin cancers before treatment to group the variability among subjects and within the lesions themselves. The process took around 5-10 seconds and developed images with a resolution of 30 microns, probably unraveling spatially resolved maps of the optical properties of the lesions, tissue oxygenation and quantitative distribution of the photosensitizing drug. This imaging technique may put forth an improved map for targeting and optimizing photodynamic therapy for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer. Additional research will be triggered for allowing the therapeutic aspects of the instrument and to examine the tissue dynamics during PDT treatment regimens.

The research will be at the Optical Society’s (OSA) 94th annual meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2010 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y., from October 24-28.