Star Trek-like scanners may soon be healing wounds with light

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Washington, May 27 (ANI): If you thought that Star Trek scanners that fix injuries with beams of light was just a piece of fiction, just be ready for this-scientists have developed a new optical technology that could lead to better artificial tissues and wounds that heal faster with less scarring.

The new technology lines up living cells and controls their movements to effectively heal the wounds faster.

Scientists have long used the energy in laser light to drill microscopic holes or as tweezers or traps to direct and manoeuvre small pieces of matter.

However, guiding entire cells has proven difficult because the lasers used for manipulation tend to damage the structural units of living organisms.

But now, Aristide Dogariu and colleagues at the University of Central Florida in Orlando have developed an optical procedure that does not harm cells, but affects their skeletons - an ensemble of slender rods made out of an abundant protein called actin.

The actin rods are constantly growing and shrinking inside of cells, but the direction in which they grow changes the cell's membrane shape and dictates where the cell moves.

The researchers used the polarization of optical waves to create a field around the cells in which the growing actin rods line up like a compass in the Earth's magnetic field.

It is possible to use the optical fields to direct large groups of cells to line up and move in the same direction.

The technique could be useful for cancer assays, which test the motility of cells, or as a non-invasive, non-toxic boost for regenerative medicine.

The findings were presented at the 2009 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/International Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC) at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore. (ANI)

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