In a first, scientists invent contact lenses that could identify tumors from tears

Before you get too excited about the technology’s development, it should be noted that it has thus far only been tried in lab cells. But that does not mean it couldn’t be tested in humans once proved safe.

How does it work? The device identifies cellular byproducts in tears called exosomes that are thought to indicate tumor growth somewhere in the body.

The lenses are equipped with an antibody that can spot and latch onto another antibody found on these exosomes. When these two antibodies come together, they turn red.

In a first, scientists invent contact lenses that could identify tumors from tears

Could this be the future of cancer treatment?

This red color indicates the presence of tumor cells. The results are so powerful that they can even be observed by the naked eye.

Needless to say, this technique offers many advantages, including speed. Whereas standard blood tests, biopsies, or CT scans took several days, or even weeks, to produce a diagnosis, the lenses offer results within 30 minutes.

The process is also a painless one as it does not require any incisions or surgery.

What’s next for this promising device? Zhu and his team are currently working toward a study that will test the device on rabbits. The new experiments could prove the contact lens’ safety and allow them to be approved for tests on humans.

If it all goes to plan, Zhu and his team hope the contact lens will go beyond cancer testing, such as diagnosing other conditions like certain autoimmune diseases. They may one day even be used to deliver drugs serving as a treatment for diseases rather than a simple diagnostic tool.

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