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The Tsens' USP laser in the laboratory setting.  (Source: Kong-Thon Tsen)
New ultra-fast laser promises to provide revolutionary elimination of pathogens

Viruses have taken an innumberable toll on humans and many other living species throughout the Earth's history.  The only thing that protects these tiny killers is a thin shield of protein, which encloses their genetic material, either RNA or DNA.

Researchers Kong-Thon Tsen, a physics professor at Arizona State University, and his son Shaw-Wei Tsen, a pathology student at John Hopkins, have found a way to destroy this protective sheath without harming normal cells.

The secret is a device known as an Ultrashort-Pulse (USP) Laser.  A harmless laser pulse, 1/40th of the level destructive to human cells, was aimed a Tobacco Mosaic Virus.  The laser destroyed the virus, leaving behind only a mucus-like mess of molecules.

The laser releases energy in pulses in the femtosecond range; a femtosecond being a millionth of a nanosecond--10-15 seconds.

The super-fast pulses are tuned to the resonant frequency of the virus protein and causes it to vibrate, with each pulse adding to the vibration.  Eventually the vibration overcomes the bonding energy of the protein's bonds and the protein structure disintegrates, shattering into harmless component atoms and molecules.

The Tsens are next looking to aim the laser's sights at HIV and Hepatitis viruses, to see if a similar destructive effect at low power can be achieved, as they anticipate.

"This technique will be very useful to disinfect all the viruses, known or unknown," Tsen said. "This will make blood transfusion very safe."  By using the laser technique, blood banks will likely be able to determine hard to detect viruses such as HIV.  HIV and other viruses undergo periods of dormancy, during which they are virtually undetectable by traditional testing.

Treatment in which the lasers are aimed at human tissues to kill viruses residing in them is still a ways away, however with continued advanced, this may one day be possible.

While not suggested by the Tsens, an additional possible application is to use the USP laser to effectively filter the viruses out of the blood of patients with disorders such as viral pneumonia or late stage HIV.  By hooking a patient up to a circulatory apparatus, which exposes their blood stream to a USP, a progressive cleaning program could be executed, eventually culminating in clearing the patient's bloodstream of a particular pathogen.  While this would take some time, the approach could dramatically clear out viral infections, which frequently target areas with a high amount of blood flow, such as the lungs.

USPs, according to an FDA official may have hundreds of medical uses.  Among these are destroying viruses, improving common laser eye treatments, and cell-by-cell tumor ablation.

The FDA signed a deal this year with tech-venture company Raydiance to develop and research medical uses for USPs.   USPs have been around for over 25 years, but only recently have been shrunk to useful sizes.

"The extreme brevity of these pulses is creating a physical effect that traditional lasers and other types of non-laser approaches can't do," the president of Raydiance, Scott Davison said. "What we see is a new wave of exploration and discovery in applying USP in a whole bunch of industries and applications."

The field of high-tech laser devices has been experiencing dramatic breakthroughs in recent years.  Aside from medicine, new powerful lasers are promising to revolutionize the future of mankind in many other ways.  In September it was reported by DailyTech that a new highly powerful low-cost laser is promising to revolutionize spaceflight by acting as either an engine or as a flight positioning device. 

Previously this year it was also reported by DailyTech that the U.S. armed forces are making advances in weaponry grade lasers, which may be deployed in the battlefields of the near future.


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All these advances.....
By Gnoad on 11/4/2007 11:05:54 PM , Rating: 5
It seems that we routinely make profound advancements such as this one, yet it takes so long to see real world results and applications. One has to wonder when we will see this technology actually used to treat people. Maybe I just don't understand the business side of these things, but it just seems silly that we aren't really "living in the future" yet.

That said, this is still great news.




RE: All these advances.....
By Alpha4 on 11/4/2007 11:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
I hear ya. I've lost count of all the "Revolutionary" concepts conceived of by all these brilliant minds. Revolutions that, perhaps 5-10 years later in my case, are yet to see the light of day... I'm afraid to ask how much funding these 'research' projects collect.


RE: All these advances.....
By Scrogneugneu on 11/4/07, Rating: -1
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/4/2007 11:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
Eventually, governments will discover that the cost to keep its citizens alive is dwarfed by the cost of losing a working taxpayer.


RE: All these advances.....
By noirsoft on 11/4/2007 11:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hm. Biased much? It's not revenue that's important, it's profit.

If the treatment costs a company 1/4 as much to give to a patient, they can sell it for 1/2 the prices of existing treatments and make more profit per patient. Hence, any option that reduces the cost to the treatment manufacturer is good for the company as well as for the patient.

This device will succeed or fail on those grounds and not via some comspiracy.


RE: All these advances.....
By omnicronx on 11/5/2007 1:23:07 AM , Rating: 1
Not that i don't think he is making a bias comment, but I assure you drug companies profit much more off of current means of treatment, than they will for something like this anytime in the near future. I work for a drug company, work with files showing the cost they paid for them, and what the markup is for each product. Keep in mind this is in Canada, I would not want to imagine what it is like in the US.


RE: All these advances.....
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
Which explains companies like Intuitive Surgical.. uh.. how, exactly?

Oh, thats right. It doesn't. :P

All hail capitalism.


RE: All these advances.....
By SandmanWN on 11/5/2007 12:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
Actually you completely neglected insurances roll in the matter. They pay out money as well. If the insurance companies determine the laser method is a better route and will save them in payouts then they will start jacking up prices on coverage of the treatments you put in section 1 and start increasing coverage and providing incentives to using laser or anything else you could list in section 2.

The capitalist world never sits still. It constantly evolves. Then again if you don't like the capitalist approach you are welcome to sit in line for a few months in one of those countries with universal health care. I hope you survive the wait.


RE: All these advances.....
By sweetsauce on 11/5/2007 12:59:11 AM , Rating: 4
Right... because here in the US i don't have to go see a doctor, then get approved to see a specialist, only to have him give me the run around and say, "no work for a few days" or "no lifting more than 5 pounds for 2 weeks." A month later, i still have the same problem, i've paid a deductible several times, i've lost a few weeks of work, and now i have to try to convince the specialist that the problem is severe so that he will finally try to do something to cure/treat the situation. Yes we have it so much better don't we.


RE: All these advances.....
By FastLaneTX on 11/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: All these advances.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2007 7:35:33 AM , Rating: 1
Federal Government?


RE: All these advances.....
By ultimaone on 11/5/2007 9:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
mines all 100% approved and covered too...

oh wait I live in Canada


RE: All these advances.....
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
Mine isn't quite so good (I'm just starting out), though is pretty darn good, but my parents have had that level of service for as long as I can remember.

Oh wait, they worked for a living.


RE: All these advances.....
By SoCalBoomer on 11/5/2007 6:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
Mine is similar - and I have zero problem getting in and getting taken care of. Not very expensive (company pays portion) and very good coverage.

People just keep going on with crap coverage and keep paying for it.


RE: All these advances.....
By SandmanWN on 11/5/2007 8:20:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Right... because here in the US i don't have to go see a doctor, then get approved to see a specialist, only to have him give me the run around and say, "no work for a few days" or "no lifting more than 5 pounds for 2 weeks." A month later, i still have the same problem, i've paid a deductible several times, i've lost a few weeks of work, and now i have to try to convince the specialist that the problem is severe so that he will finally try to do something to cure/treat the situation. Yes we have it so much better don't we.

If you have to do that much convincing to see a specialist and even more convincing once you see the specialist before he does anything then I'm betting the real issue isn't the problem you think it is rather the thought process behind it.

And what is the no heavy lifting crap??? Do you think if you have a major operation anywhere else that you will miraculously be able to run out of the hospital and bench press 200 lbs??? You have issues man, perhaps you need a psychiatrist not a physician.


RE: All these advances.....
By Flunk on 11/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: All these advances.....
By Spotacus on 11/5/2007 2:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
Did you?

quote:
Among these are destroying viruses, improving common laser eye treatments, and cell-by-cell tumor ablation.


Straight from the article. Also mentioned in the first line of the linked article in the sentence before. So don't be so quick to attack people.


RE: All these advances.....
By killerroach on 11/5/2007 8:48:45 AM , Rating: 1
You forget the competitive aspect. Right now many different companies compete in the field of cancer treatments, and, if proven to work, this sort of a technique would eventually reap a huge chunk of market share in a short period of time. Would you rather have 10% market share with a product that has, as a hypothetical, a $1000 profit margin, or 80% market share with a product with a $250 margin?

The capitalist system that you seem to abhor also protects innovation in the medical industry and allows enterprising firms the ability to develop new treatments, bring them to market, and make a decent return on them. Say what you will about American health care, but note that we seem to be coming up with the lion's share of new treatments, largely because we have the university system to help promote research and a strong profit motive that allows investment capital to easily flow to promising research.


RE: All these advances.....
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
Good post. Milton Friedman said "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself", but there is also FUD and misunderstanding.

Of course, he also said this when HillaryCare 1.0 was making its surge:

"It is taken for granted that workers should receive their pay partly in kind, in the form of medical care provided by the employer. How come? Why single out medical care? Surely food is no less essential to life than medical care. Why is it not at least as logical for workers to be required to buy their food at the company store as to be required to buy their medical care at the company store?"

I think they'd socialize other forms of insurance (as is well on its way to happening in Florida), and then possibly housing, before they'd get to food, but valid point. Why should only rich capitalists get filet mignon?


RE: All these advances.....
By MrTeal on 11/5/2007 11:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
There's a pretty big difference between killing a couple of virus cells in laboratory conditions, using an apparatus as large as a room, and a field ready unit. The regulatory aspects of getting a new treatment approved are huge, and that would probably be quicker than getting this thing to the size, power usage, effectiveness and cost needed to deploy in hospitals.


RE: All these advances.....
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the problem is what we call lawyers.

Give a revolutionary treatment to a hundred thousand people, cure 99,999 of them, but kill 1 unexpectedly, and here comes a hundred million smacker lawsuit.

Litigation also nearly destroyed general aviation.

I say shoot the lawyers. Who's with me?

*shakes Musharaff off leg* Damnit, I wasn't talking to you!


I love technology...
By cscpianoman on 11/4/2007 10:58:45 PM , Rating: 5
I have no doubt that given enough time and human ingenuity we will solve the problem of cancer, HIV, space travel, energy production, transportation and whatever. The only caveat is whether or not we blow our selves up, become obliterated by a supervirus/bug, have our bodies clogged by pollution and cancer, or we cause a nuclear holocaust before we solve all the problems. Ain't technology grand!




RE: I love technology...
By Nyu on 11/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: I love technology...
By Schadenfroh on 11/4/2007 11:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
I hear you, I have less than 40 years (with luck) to discover a solution.


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/4/2007 11:14:45 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
We should solve aging first, there's no point in development if we are just gonna die eventually.

Make your mark now then. :)


RE: I love technology...
By SunAngel on 11/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: I love technology...
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:21:33 PM , Rating: 1
And Europeans wonder why some Americans avoid public transportation


RE: I love technology...
By StevoLincolnite on 11/4/2007 11:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
I would put my kids before myself.
I would even hand the world on a platter to them.


RE: I love technology...
By Treckin on 11/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: I love technology...
By feraltoad on 11/5/2007 5:17:49 AM , Rating: 3
Your a man with a large heart, and even larger flatware. I just hope Uranus isn't on the menu.


RE: I love technology...
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2007 6:51:46 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize that people need to die in the world right? Do you have any idea what would happen if people stopped dying? The world would destroy itself. We're already pushing the limits of how many people our world can support. There's a few billion people on this planet. There isn't room for the population to double. If you think there's wars now, imagine what it'd be like with countries fighting for land for their never decreasing populations.

Will we figure out how to extend our lives? Sure. But we'll never conquer death. Nor should we. Death is just a part of life. And why if you want to do something, make your mark in the 80-90 years you have here. Me personally, I just want to live my life. I've no interest in being remembered by anyone but family and friends.


Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By dubldwn on 11/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By ksherman on 11/5/2007 1:27:06 AM , Rating: 2
My guess is that it has something to do with being a lower level virus with perhaps a weaker than average protein membrane, thus making it an easier test case. I could be wrong though, just guessing ;)


RE: Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By Pandamonium on 11/5/2007 1:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to acquire strains of HIV? (I don't, but it shouldn't be very easy, and I'm sure there's a lot of paperwork involved.) Researchers often study using the cheapest subjects possible. For every breakthrough, there are hundreds if not thousands of failures. You can't test "ways to destroy HIV" without lots of it, and I'm sure ordering lots of HIV is incredibly difficult and expensive.


RE: Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By jimmy43 on 11/5/2007 2:27:24 AM , Rating: 2
Don't worry yall, im sure we'l find some AIDS out in the forest!


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/5/2007 2:48:32 AM , Rating: 5
I've become convinced that for every DailyTech thread, there is at least one corresponding South Park one-liner.


RE: Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2007 5:19:56 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah... 'cos they are gonna risk infecting themselves with something really dangerous at the proof-of-concept stage of a research program.

Use yer head!


RE: Sweet. They saved Tobacco.
By Rugar on 11/5/2007 7:59:51 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's probably for 1 (or both) of 2 reasons.

1) TMV is quite large and "easy" to work with as viri go.

2) TMV was the first virus ever discovered and is commonly used as a model. It is therefore well characterized and understood.


Finally!
By Vim on 11/5/2007 3:39:03 AM , Rating: 1
Finally! One step closer to getting rid of the herpes that b**** gave me. W00T!




RE: Finally!
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2007 7:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
Don't be a fool, wrap your tool.


RE: Finally!
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2007 8:34:24 AM , Rating: 2
no glove... no love


RE: Finally!
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 5:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
Shields up, torpedoes loaded.


Modulate your phasers
By kyleb2112 on 11/5/2007 6:22:18 PM , Rating: 2
"The super-fast pulses are tuned to the resonant frequency of the virus protein..."

Well, it works on Star Trek.




RE: Modulate your phasers
By xxeonn on 11/5/2007 9:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Lol I was just about to post that. The revolutionary word of doctor Flox.


What about the militayr applications?
By HighWing on 11/5/2007 1:11:11 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The super-fast pulses are tuned to the resonant frequency of the virus protein and causes it to vibrate, with each pulse adding to the vibration. Eventually the vibration overcomes the bonding energy of the protein's bonds and the protein structure disintegrates, shattering into harmless component atoms and molecules.


OK am I the only one that read that and thought "ok so could it also be tuned to cause all cells and/or important life supporting cells to do the same?" I mean if it would do that to a virus cell, what is then stopping you from setting it to the frequency of white blood cells? or what about the stomach acids, thus causing the person to have an influx and die of poisoning. I bet that would even look like a natural death in a way and no one would suspect anything.

In essence isn't this more like ray guns of some Sci-Fi novels?




By Hase0 on 11/5/2007 1:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I bet that would even look like a natural death in a way and no one would suspect anything.


Lol you think ray guns can fool Grissom.


If they make that thing work...
By nurbsenvi on 11/5/2007 7:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
I mean Whoa... that's just beyond revolutionary... it's beats the s#@t out of sci-fi movies.

Just imagine it if you get cold you go to doctor and have a 2 hour laser therapy session it's all gone... finally a solution to common cold!!

If they make that thing work... I guarantee that this will get them a Nobel prize.

Fingers crossed.




By holoman on 11/5/2007 7:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
Advanced Electric Propulsion Linear Electron Beam Particle Accelerator (LINAC) for light speed electron particle propulsion using the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect is a unique proprietary invention. Using the technology to first build and assemble the near light speed propulsion engine and to make test runs to 39 AU Pluto and back testing the round trip speeds and reliability of propulsion system. The final purpose of the near light speed spacecraft for use in interplanetary and interstellar travel, mining, and exploration. 10% Light Speed Velocity goal.

http://nlspropulsion.net




sci-fi!
By Moishe on 11/5/2007 11:24:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The super-fast pulses are tuned to the resonant frequency of the virus protein and causes it to vibrate, with each pulse adding to the vibration. Eventually the vibration overcomes the bonding energy of the protein's bonds and the protein structure disintegrates, shattering into harmless component atoms and molecules.

Reminds me of sci-fi movies where people are just liquidated down to their molecules. In order to get rid of a body, the future mob will simply have to hit the corpse with a ray that will melt his body into ectoplasm.




Good old Dr. Tsen
By TwYsTeD on 11/5/2007 11:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
He taught my electricity and magnetism class 3 years ago. The name caught my eye, couldn't resist posting :P




By Innovato on 11/5/2007 4:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
The student body here sort of gets a kick that most people drop the (weird) 's', with T-shirts that poke fun at it and stuff.




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