Optical fibre created to deliver light and medication into the body

Engineering

Researchers have created a new flexible and biodegradable optical fibre with a potentially wide range of medical applications.

Developed by Penn State Materials Research Institute, the step-index optical fibre consists of a core material that transmits light and a cladding that protects the core and keeps the light from escaping, allowing it to be delivered into the body.

“Scientists have developed a new biodegradable optical fibre that can be used to deliver light into the body for medical applications.“

Because the core and cladding have identical mechanical characteristics, the fibre can bend and stretch without the layers pulling apart, while they also biodegrade at similar rates in the body without causing harm.

It is hoped that this fibre can be used to view the insides of tissues and that it could be left inside the body for long periods, without the need for a second surgery to remove it. In addition, it could be used to deliver chemicals, drugs or biological molecules for disease treatment.

Dingying Shan, co-first author on this study, said: "We believe this new type of biodegradable, biocompatible and low-loss step-index optical fibre can facilitate organ-scale light delivery and collection."

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