Lasers to improve bladder cancer detection and treatment

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The four-year 2.3million Euros Advanced Bladder cancer LAser Diagnostics and therapy (ABLADE) co-ordinated by the University of Dundee is to examine whether advanced laser techniques can be used to both detect and treat the disease.

Bladder cancer is a common form of the disease and one of the hardest to diagnose and treat.  Existing methods are not very effective, missing at least one in ten cases, and the process is expensive and uncomfortable for patients. However, early experiments with lasers have discovered that cancerous cells and healthy cells respond differently to certain infra-red light. The ABLADE project will exploit this difference to integrate laser diagnostics and therapeutic techniques.

‘What we have seen when looking at cells is that there is a notable difference in the behaviour of the cancerous cells and healthy ones when exposed to particular laser wavelengths,’ said Dr Ghulam Nabi, a senior clinical lecturer in surgical uro-oncology at Dundee. ‘This means that, in theory, we can first identify the cancer cells and then selectively kill them with certain wavelengths without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.’

ABLADE will bring together experts from the University's medical school and photonics and nanoscience group, along with companies in the Netherlands and Russia. As well as 2.3million euros from the European Union's Marie Curie Industry Academia Partnership and Pathways programme, the industrial partners are 2M Netherlands and SPE Lazma from Russia. The project will also see staff seconded between the University and the industry partners and create four new research posts.