Purdue researchers investigate effectiveness of gold nanorods in medical imaging

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Researchers at Purdue University are investigating a new type of ultra-sensitive medical imaging technique which shines a laser through the skin to detect tiny gold nanorods injected into the bloodstream. Findings were detailed in a research paper published online last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, according to a release.
   
Initial tests on mice have been promising with the nanorods yielding images nearly 60 times brighter than conventional fluorescent dyes, including rhodamine, which is often used in imaging studies of the inner workings of cells and molecules.

Potential uses for the nanorods iclude to develop an advanced medical imaging tool for the early detection of cancer, said Ji-Xin Cheng (pronounced Gee-Shin), an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue.

The gold rods are about 20 nanometers wide and 60 nanometers long, or roughly 200 times smaller than a red blood cell. Additionally, the gold nanorods could represent a means to overcome barriers in developing advanced medical imaging techniques that use light to analyze blood vessels and underlying tissues.

The research paper was written by researchers in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry.