Melbourne, Nov 23 : A Star Wars-style "light sabre" has been developed that can fight cancer cells, its creators have claimed.
According to the researchers, the revolutionary device - a couple of millimetres square - could be routinely used on patients within the next five years.
The machine fires a laser beam so accurately that it can puncture a hole in an individual cell, allowing drugs to enter and do their work much more effectively.
This could imply, for instance, that the cells surrounding the spot where a tumour has been removed by surgery would be holed by the device.
The procedure would allow chemotherapy drugs to enter and kill any remaining cancer cells. It would be particularly useful for hard-to-reach cancers such as that of the pancreas, reports Courier Mail.
The team from the University of St Andrews in Scotland has managed to mount the "light sabre" on an optical fibre.
The boffins said that the next step is to develop it for use on endoscopes, the tubes used by surgeons to pass miniature cameras through the body.
The masterminds behind the creation are Professor Kishan Dholakia from the university's school of physics and Dr Frank Gunn-Moore from the school of biology.
Dr Gunn-Moore said: "You could think of these as tiny light sabres like they had in Star Wars inside your body.
"We can use lasers to punch tiny holes exactly where we want them. We can produce a rod of light - sometimes described as a sword - that can even go around objects. It really does sound like science fiction."