Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Targeting Viruses With Laser Precision

According to a Discover magazine report, a physicist at Arizone State University, Kong-Thon Tsen, has developed a way to use lasers tuned to a specific frequency of light to kill viruses. It turns out that the outer shells of viruses are rigid and have certain frequencies that can set up an unstable feedback in the harmonic oscillations of the virus' shells, destroying them.

In test tubes, Tsen's group has used this technology to destroy the outer shell—or capsid—of HIV samples. And because the capsids of viruses are different, disrupting the HIV capsids should not have any side effects within the body.

None of this research has been tested in vivo yet, but within the next couple of years Tsen's group plans to test the technology on HIV in monkeys by zapping blood outside the body. Basically, the process will use dialysis machines to cycle the blood out, destroy the viruses without affecting the blood cells, and cycle the clean blood back into the body.

The research has not been published, and more work needs to be done. In all, FDA approval is probably more than a decade away. But this technology, if proven, could be used to destroy just about any blood-borne virus.

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