Melbourne, Apr 12 (PTI) Scientists have invented a world-first tiny fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously measure temperature and see deep inside the body.

The probe may help researchers find better treatments to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain, and potentially refine thermal treatment for cancers.

“With an outer diameter of only 130 microns, the probe is as thin as a single strand of human hair,” said Jiawen Li from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

“This means it can be delivered deep inside the body in a minimally invasive way. It also allows us to see and record physiological data in real time that we were not able to access before,” Li wrote in the journal Optics Letters.

The miniaturised imaging and sensing probe has been developed to help study drug-induced hyperthermia.

“Using some drugs such as ecstasy can make certain brain regions overheat and then become damaged,” said Li.

“Using the probe’s imaging function during experiments, our medical collaborators would be able to see deep inside the brain of a living organism and guide the placement of the probe to the right brain region,” said Li.

“Then, they can use the probe’s built-in thermometer to monitor any changes to the local temperature of that region,” said Li.

This will allow researchers to better understand how hyperthermia develops, test new medical treatments, and investigate the toxicology impacts of drug-taking, researchers said.

The probe also has potential to provide insights into other diseases and treatments in other parts of the body, such as optimising thermal treatment of cancers, they said.

While the first generation of the probe can both take images and measure temperature, Li hopes future generations will take other measurements as well – such as pH values, oxygen saturation and accumulation of fat in arteries.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.