Skip to main content

New glowing dye safely allows doctors to see beneath your skin

Fluorescent dye Stanford safe for humans
Alexander Antaris/Stanford
In the field of medicine, glowing dye injected beneath a patient’s skin can help doctors detect all kinds of dangerous conditions. These dyes can be used to diagnose early-stage cancers and visualize delicate internal systems like the eye. But until now, those dyes have been too harmful for safe use in humans, and they weren’t excreted from the body quickly enough to justify the risks. A team of Stanford researchers has finally developed a fluorescent dye that is completely safe for internal use, and is even more accurate than the unsafe dyes of the past.

After the fluorescent dye is inserted into the bloodstream, doctors can use high-tech imaging devices to view below the surface of a patient’s skin. The dye will glow under spectral imaging technology to identify anything from a burgeoning tumor to damaged blood vessels. Until now, glowing internal dyes have been made mostly from carbon nanotubes or quantum dots. Because these particles remained in the liver and the spleen for days or even months, patients were vulnerable to more internal damage than the diagnostics were worth.

The Stanford team’s new dye solution contains molecular fluorescent particles that emit light within the near-infrared range of light. Technically this range is known as NIR-II, or the second near-infrared window. This specific light range is crucial to the efficacy of the dye because it means the particles produce longer wavelengths that can be viewed through many layers of tissue and skin without scattering. Stanford’s new dye enables imaging so accurate that real-time video capture is now a possibility.

“The difficulty is how to make a dye that is both fluorescent in the infrared and water soluble,” said Alex Antaris, a graduate student on the Stanford team. The most important achievement in this new fluorescent dye is its soluble quality, which allows it to be excreted from the body within 24 hours. That tacks on a whole new level of safety to the initial benefit of vastly more accurate imaging below the skin. The fluorescent dye could spark a major step forward in medical imaging, from basic diagnostics to imaging-guided surgery.

Chloe Olewitz
Chloe is a writer from New York with a passion for technology, travel, and playing devil's advocate. You can find out more…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more