Star Trek Tricorder revisited: Toward a genre of medical scanners

January 4, 2012, American Chemical Society

A hand-held scanner, reminiscent of the fictional Star Trek medical Tricorder, images blood vessels through the skin and projects a map onto the skin showing nurses exactly where to insert a needle. A pocket-sized device checks blood sugar levels through the skin of people with diabetes — no pinprick or blood sample needed. Those innovations are among a new genre of medical imaging technology that's giving doctors and scientists noninvasive views into the body to diagnose and study diseases. A report on the topic appears in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

In the article, C&EN Contributing Editor Aaron Alexander Rowe focuses on new optical techniques that use laser beams or so-called near-infrared light to peer painlessly below the skin and through muscle and bone to see body structures. Near-infrared light, just beyond the range visible to the human eye, penetrates several inches into the human body. Two devices described in the article project a near-infrared beam into the skull. The light passes through brain tissue and blood vessels, and then scatters back out, where detectors analyze it in ways that promise to reveal whether patients are bleeding from a stroke or have other disorders.

The article explains that some of the new light-based medical diagnostic tools — the blood vessel mapper, for instance — already are in use in hospitals and clinics. Others are in various stages of pre-clinical development, including devices intended to spot skin cancer, monitor how breast cancer is responding to treatments and produce 3-D images of blockages in .

Explore further: Consumers' close encounters with nanoparticles

More information: Lights and Lasers Invade the Clinic, cen.acs.org/articles/90/i1/Lig … s-Invade-Clinic.html

Related Stories

Consumers' close encounters with nanoparticles

August 10, 2011
The most personal encounter that many consumers have had so far with the much-heralded field of nanotechnology is the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the American Chemical ...

Recommended for you

Forces from fluid in the developing lung play an essential role in organ development

January 23, 2018
It is a marvel of nature: during gestation, multiple tissue types cooperate in building the elegantly functional structures of organs, from the brain's folds to the heart's multiple chambers. A recent study by Princeton researchers ...

Anemia discovery offers new targets to treat fatigue in millions

January 22, 2018
A new discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has revealed an unknown clockwork mechanism within the body that controls the creation of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. The finding sheds light on iron-restricted ...

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.