Wednesday, 09 Feb, 2011 Science
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Solution that Makes Nerves Glow in the Dark, Allowing Surgeons to See Them

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During different types of surgery it is important for surgeons to see where a patient's nerves are located. However, it's rather difficult to do so.

In order to solve the problem a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, invented a solution that makes the nerves glow in the dark, allowing surgeons to see them.

A fluorescent peptide has been tested on mice. The trials were carried out by Dr Quyen Nguyen, assistant professor of head and neck surgery. It was said that the peptide preferentially attaches to peripheral nerve tissue and makes it ten times larger than the tissue around it. Doctors are able to see the effect within 2 hours.

It is worth mentioning that the effect can last for 6 to 8 hours. During the tests researchers did not notice any influence of the peptide on the behavior of animals and the activity of the fluorescent nerves.

According to Nguyen, further trials on patients still have to be performed. "We have shown that the fluorescent probe also labels nerves in human tissue samples," he added.

It would be interesting to note that the technique showed good results in damaged nerves, which gives surgeons hope that the peptide will help them repair injured nerves. Besides, the technique could help surgeons when they remove tumors in patients, allowing them to clearly see the location of the nerves, reports TGDaily.

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