Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Nano-Scissors' Laser Shows Precise Surgical Capability

Date:
January 15, 2005
Source:
University Of Texas At Austin
Summary:
An ultra-short pulse laser that can perform extremely precise surgery on tiny roundworms may be the key to understanding nerve regeneration and is an important step toward treatment of human neurological disease, according to research published in the Dec. 16 issue of Nature.

The background shows a C. elegans roundworm. The bright green dots are neurons, and the thin green lines extending from the neurons are axons. The inset demonstrates where the laser severs the axon.
Credit: Photo : H. Cinar and Y. Jin

AUSTIN, Texas -- An ultra-short pulse laser that can perform extremely precise surgery on tiny roundworms may be the key to understanding nerve regeneration and is an important step toward treatment of human neurological disease, according to research published in the Dec. 16 issue of Nature.

Related Articles


Dr. Adela Ben-Yakar, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, led the development of the technique. It acts like a pair of tiny “nano-scissors,” able to cut, for example, nano-sized units like nerve axons, the parts of nerve cells that carry nerve impulses away from the cells to muscles or to other cells.

“This tool opens up a new frontier for biologists studying nerve regeneration,” says Ben-Yakar. “We can also apply it to many other studies that require nanosurgery, so it’s a very versatile tool.”

The beauty of this laser, she says, is its ability to cut organelles (parts of cells—they are what organs are to organisms) precisely, without damaging surrounding tissue. Usually, conventional lasers used in surgery heat the area to be cut, then cut it, but this heightens the risk for tissue damage.

Ben-Yakar’s nanosurgery technique used a series of low-energy “femtosecond” laser pulses to partially sever the axons of several anesthetized C. elegans, a widely studied type of roundworm about one millimeter long. A femtosecond is one millionth of a billionth of a second.

“The time is very important here,” she says. “Because it happens so fast, there isn’t enough time for heat to diffuse out, so we don’t damage anything. The pulse’s very short length makes the photons in the laser concentrate in one area, delivering a lot of power to a tiny, specific volume without damaging surrounding tissue.”

Once cut, the axons vaporized, and no other tissue was harmed.

To assure the axons were actually cut, and their disappearance wasn’t caused by discoloration by the laser, the researchers cut axons they knew would impair the worms’ backward motion. The worms couldn’t move backwards after surgery. But within 24 hours, most of the severed axons regrew and the worms recovered backward movement—confirming that the precision of the laser’s cut didn’t damage surrounding tissue and allowed the neurons to grow a new axon to reach the muscle.

Until now, researchers have only been able to investigate nerve regeneration in mice and zebrafish, which have complex nervous systems. This laser allows researchers to study nerve cells at their most basic evolutionary form, opening the door to other experiments on genetic and molecular factors that determine whether damaged nerve cells regrow.

Ben-Yakar developed the femtosecond laser surgery technique using the laboratories and equipment of Dr. Robert Byer, a Stanford University professor, while doing post-doctoral work. The paper’s other co-authors are Mehmet Fatih Yanik at Stanford, Hulusi Cinar, Hediye Nese Cinar and Andrew D. Chisholm at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Yishi Jin of UC Santa Cruz and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas At Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas At Austin. "'Nano-Scissors' Laser Shows Precise Surgical Capability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050110124107.htm>.
University Of Texas At Austin. (2005, January 15). 'Nano-Scissors' Laser Shows Precise Surgical Capability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050110124107.htm
University Of Texas At Austin. "'Nano-Scissors' Laser Shows Precise Surgical Capability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050110124107.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins