Biophotonics allows quicker diagnoses
and more efficient therapies
When diagnosing and treating illnesses, photonics technologies continued to increase physicians' possibilities. Diagnoses are becoming faster and more precise, and treatments are becoming more efficient and less invasive. That is why biophotonics and medical technology will be a focal point of the international trade fair LASER World of PHOTONICS 2013 from May 13 - 16 and the World of Photonics Congress from May 12 - 16, 2013 at the Messe München trade fair center and the ICM - Internationales Congress Center München.
The increasing significance of biophotonics is documented quite clearly by growth rates. Various studies estimate increases during the past few years at six to 15 percent. And "in the next few years, growth is likely to increase," explains Dr. Thomas Mayerhöfer, Scientific Coordinator at the Institute for Photonics Technologies in Jena.
LASER World of PHOTONICS 2013 gives these technologies special emphasis with the exhibition sector for Biophotonics and Medical Technology in Hall B1. In addition, as part of the World of Photonics Congress, there will be four sessions with Panel Applications on this topic in the same hall, i.e. at the Photonics Forum in Hall B1: "Laser Applications and Optical Diagnostics in Ophthalmology" (May 13, 14:00 - 17:00), "Unmet Needs in Biophotonics Technology" (May 14, 10:00 - 13:00), "Lasers for Analysis and Imaging in Biophotonics" (May 14, 14:00 - 17:00) and "Visions for Future Diagnostics - Endoscopy" (May 15, 10:00 - 13:00).
The World of Photonics Congress examines biophotonics topics from a more scientific point of view at the ECBO Conference (European Conferences on Biomedical Optics) and the annual conference of the Head and Neck Optical Diagnostics Society (HNODS). The conferences are being held at the ICM - Internationales Congress Center München from May 12 - 16.
So-called optical biopsies are an increasingly important field in biophotonics. Tissue can now be examined for mutations either directly or inside the patient's body. Until now, it was necessary to take tissue samples. At this year's fair, Jenlab will present a compact clinical multiphoton CARS tomograph that provides optical biopsies that have extremely high resolutions and include chemical information. It sends two ultrashort near infrared laser beams through an optical arm and superimposes them with regard to both space and time in the tissue being examined. It combines autofluorescense of the tissue due to multiphoton excitation and a CARS (coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy) signal. The first clinical study is currently being conducted on patients with skin tumors and psoriasis at The Charité.
In microscopy, there is a "definite trend toward high-resolution imagery" explains Dr. Thomas Renner, Vice President Sales and Marketing at Toptica Photonics. According to Renner, fluorescence-based techniques could make it possible to optically identify structures far below the classic diffraction limit and come to completely new findings about biological cell structures and movement processes. High-power lasers with the best possible beam quality and the widest wavelength range in the entire visible range and beyond are required to do so.
following cataract operations
Optical techniques have been established the longest in the field of ophthalmology. However, they also continue to open up new possibilities in this field, as well. Dr. Matthias Schulze, Marketing Director at Coherent, who will lead the Application Panel on "Lasers in Analysis and Imaging" together with Renner, emphasizes the significance of ultra-short pulse lasers when it comes to improving cataract treatment. They are used to improve the patient's vision by replacing the cloudy natural lens with an artificial lens (IOL, intra-ocular lens). According to Schulze, they make it possible to better prepare the eye for the use of premium IOLs because targeted cuts can be used to correct astigmatism. Coherent will have ultra-short pulse lasers of this kind on display at the fair.
Dr. Manfred Dick, Head of Advanced Development for Ophthalmological Systems at Carl Zeiss Meditec, points out another advantage of optical techniques. The use of LASIK (Laser-in-situ-Keratomileusis) to correct vision defects is constantly being further developed. In LASIK procedures, a tiny piece of the cornea is removed to change its refractive power so that the patient can see without glasses again. Before the procedure, wavefront analysis (aberrometry) is used to precisely determine the imaging errors (abberations) of the cornea so that the patient's vision can be optimally corrected in the next step. The small flap in the cornea through which the procedure is performed used to be cut mechanically with microkeratomes, but now lasers are used. Manfred Dick: "Femtosecond lasers make it possible to cut this flap with much greater precision, which reduces the risk of complications following the operation. The latest generation of femtosecond lasers for refractive surgery make it possible to perform a minimally invasive, all-in-one procedure with extremely precise cuts."
Lasers target and
activate medications in the retina
According to Dick, modern examination systems based on high-resolution scans of the retina use optical coherence tomography to treat retinal disorders such as macular degeneration. They perform tens of thousands of scans per second and have a resolution of five micrometers. Lasers are also used in photodynamic therapy of age-related macular degeneration: A drug is introduced into the retina and then targeted and activated using laser light.
Other systems - and not just the laser alone - are also important for these procedures to succeed. Birgit Bauer, Business Manager Health Care Sales at Physik Instrumente, which is based in Karlsruhe, explains: "In ophthalmology, guiding the laser beam continues to increase in importance." In this case, single or multiple-axis systems featuring high-precision piezo tip/tilt mirrors are used to guide the beam. The piezo actuators have resolutions in the nanometer range, are extremely dynamic and have scanning frequencies up to several thousand Hertz. According to Bauer, the company's ceramic PILine ultrasound motors are an interesting alternative to laser-beam control. It is characterized by extremely high speeds and very compact dimensions.
Coherent expert Dr. Matthias Schulze sums up: When it comes to LASIK and cataract operations, "ultra-short pulse lasers mean greater predictability and safety. In the case of cataract operations, they also result in improved vision following the operation."
LASER World of PHOTONICS 2013
from 13 to 16 May 2013, Fair ground Munich (Germany)
Images: R. Eberhard, messekompakt, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh
Source: Messe Munich