A new technique which delivers light deeper into human tissue than previously possible has been developed by researchers at the University of St Andrews and Harvard Medical School.
The new method, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help heal wounds faster and treat tumours more efficiently.
Through a process called photochemical tissue bonding, light is applied to a wound to stimulate healing.
Advances in photonics have stimulated significant progress in medicine, with many techniques now in routine clinical use. However, the finite depth of light penetration in tissue is a serious constraint to clinical utility. Here we show implantable light-delivery devices made of bio-derived or biocompatible, and biodegradable polymers. In contrast to conventional optical fibres, which must be removed from the body soon after use, the biodegradable and biocompatible waveguides may be used for long-term light delivery and need not be removed as they are gradually resorbed by the tissue. As proof of concept, we demonstrate this paradigm-shifting approach for photochemical tissue bonding (PTB). Using comb-shaped planar waveguides, we achieve a full thickness (>10 mm) wound closure of porcine skin, which represents ~10-fold extension of the tissue area achieved with conventional PTB. The results point to a new direction in photomedicine for using light in deep tissues.