A new probe developed at the University of Adelaide, may help researchers find better treatments to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain, and potentially refine thermal treatment for cancers.

With an outer diameter of only 130 microns, the probe is as thin as a single strand of human hair, which means it can be delivered deep inside the body in a minimally invasive way. It also enables seeing and recording previously inaccessible physiological data in real time The miniaturized imaging and sensing probe has been developed to help study drug-induced hyperthermia. This is important because using some drugs, such as ecstasy, can make certain brain regions overheat and then become damaged.

Dr. Jiawen Li holding the fiber-optic probe in her laboratory. (Image courtesy of University of Adelaide)

With the probe’s imaging function, medical practitioners would be able to see deep inside the brain of a living organism and guide the placement of the probe to the correct brain region. Then, they could use the probe’s built-in thermometer to monitor any changes to the local temperature of that region.

This will allow researchers to: better understand how hyperthermia develops, test new medical treatments, and investigate the toxicology impacts of drug-taking. The probe also has potential to provide insights into other diseases and treatments in different parts of the body, such as optimizing thermal treatment of cancers.

Although, the first generation of the probe can both take images and measure temperature, the researchers hope future generations will take other measurements as well — such as pH values, oxygen saturation, and accumulation of fat in arteries.

For more information, contact Ms. Robyn Mills at +61 8 8313 6341, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..