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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 22:24 GMT
Scientists shed light on research
Picture courtesy of P Fischer
White light laser through optics showing its constituent colours
The ways in which light can be used to diagnose and treat disease is the focus of an international conference.

The Medical Photonics workshop, being held at St Andrew's University next week, will examine how light can be used for a variety of techniques.

The conference will hear how it can be used to detect and treat cancer, inject drugs into cells and analyse tears for signs of disease.

About 100 physicists, biologists and clinicians will be attending the event.

Professor Ifor Samuel will be demonstrating his "light bandage" which he has developed in collaboration with the University of Dundee's Professor James Ferguson.

The future for light in medicine and biology certainly looks very bright
Prof Kishan Dholakia

The bandage can be worn by skin cancer patients like a sticking plaster.

Professor Simon Herrington from the Bute Medical School will be talking about projects related to early diagnosis of cancer using cutting-edge laser technology.

Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri from Dundee University, with which St Andrews operates the Interdisciplinary Centre for Medical Photonics, will discuss the future role of advanced technology in medical practice.

American professor Warren S. Warren from Duke University will deliver one of two keynote talks, about using light to look deep inside tissue.

Other talks will highlight research between St Andrews and Dundee including new methods that aim to deliver drugs directly at the cellular and tissue level.

'Real breakthrough'

One uses light to guide tiny bubbles of drugs right to the edges of cells and burst them there, while another uses light to puncture tiny holes in the cells allowing absorption of the drug.

This has formed the core of a recent 2m basic technology grant given to the team.

Professor Kishan Dholakia, who has organised the conference, said: "We are all very excited and enthused to hold this prestigious and topical meeting at St Andrews.

"It is a key international forum to discuss such important topics for future fundamental interdisciplinary work as well as real breakthroughs for healthcare.

"The future for light in medicine and biology certainly looks very bright."

The event is being held on Monday and Tuesday.

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