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Int J Thermophys. 2010 May 1;31(4):784-792.

Optical Photoacoustic Detection of Circulating Melanoma Cells In Vitro.

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Division de Ciencias e Ingenierias Campus Leon, Universidad de Guanajuato, Leon, Guanajuato 37150, Mexico, Department of Biological Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


The purpose of this research was to investigate the sensitivity of a system for the detection of circulating melanoma cells based on the thermoelastic properties of melanoma. The method employs photoacoustic (PA) excitation coupled with an optical transducer capable of determining the presence of cells within the circulating system in vitro. The transducer is based on stress wave-induced changes of the optical reflectance of a glass-water interface, probed with a continuous laser beam that is incident at an angle close to the critical angle of total internal reflection. A frequency tripled Nd:YAG laser pumping an optical parametric oscillator was employed to provide 532 nm and 620 nm laser light with a pulse duration of 10 ns. A custom-made flow chamber was used as an excitation and acoustic wave collection device. The targets were a human melanoma cell line HS 936 with an average diameter of about 15 μm. Melanoma cells were suspended in 10 mL of two types of media. The first one was Tyrode's buffer in concentrations ranging from 10 to 50 cells per μL, and the second one included 10(6) healthy white blood cells per mL of Tyrode's buffer. PA pressure waves were detected by an optical stress transducer. Detection trials resulted in a detection threshold of the order of one individual cell, indicating the effectiveness of the proposed mechanism. Results imply the potential to assay simple blood samples, from healthy and metastatic patients, to test the presence of cancerous melanoma providing an unprecedented method for screening metastatic disease.

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