Researchers from the Center for Molecular and Biomedical Imaging at Duke University have discovered a non-surgical, laser-based system for detecting the chemical and structural changes beneath the skin's surface of cancerous moles. The system can capture three-dimensional images and, unlike previous laser methods, analyze changes in both melanin and hemoglobin. Researchers used highly-controlled laser pulses to stimulate the normally dark melanin and hemoglobin to emit light. The new imaging technology analyzes the interaction between two simultaneously pulsating laser beams, each emitting a different color of light. This technique was designed to protect the skin from overheating by allowing the laser to pulse for only femtoseconds – a thousand-trillionths of a second – at a time. “This is the first approach that can target molecules like hemoglobin and melanin and get microscopic resolution images the equivalent of what a doctor would see if he or she were able to slice down to that particular point,” said Warren S. Warren, director of Duke's new Center for Molecular and Biomedical Imaging.
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have come up with a chemotherapy cocktail of two drugs – paclitaxel and carboplatin – for treating metastatic melanoma. Blood vessels are known to fuel tumor growth, so the researchers at the Mayo Clinic used an agent in the drug cocktail – bevacizumab – which they claim obstructed the growth of a substance that excites the formation of new blood vessels. The results from a clinical trial evaluating the efficiency of the drug cocktail showed delayed tumor growth by six months. “The clinical benefit may be small, but in the world of melanoma where there is very little progress, this is certainly a strong indication that the combination of chemotherapy with an anti-angiogenic agent may be a valid treatment strategy for these patients,” said Domingo Perez, the study's lead.
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