Lasers4Life (L4L) is a collaborative venture involving laser physicists, mathematicians, physicians and molecular biologists based at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ). The consortium provides a translational bridge between laser physics and clinical sciences. Its central goal is to demonstrate how a unique laser technology that generates ultrashort light pulses can be utilized for the early detection of diseases such as cancers.
Our goal is to develop, validate and establish a simple method for the ‘molecular fingerprinting’ of blood samples, based on the use of an innovative, cutting-edge, ultrafast laser technology.
At present, many types of cancer can only be reliably detected by careful examination of multiple tissue samples (biopsies). Our new method dispenses with the need for biopsies, as it is designed to detect the changes in the chemical composition of the blood that reveal the presence of cancer cells in the body, i.e. the cancer’s molecular fingerprint. Our efforts are primarily focused on the development of oncological diagnostics for the most common malignancies: cancers of the breast, lung and prostate gland.
Early detection of cancer and the ability to precisely differentiate between its various forms (including subclasses within cancer types) improve survival rates. Non-invasive analysis of the cancer’s molecular fingerprints in the blood makes early detection possible, because it enables regular screening. Similarly, repeated tests undertaken during and subsequent to treatment provide valuable information on the effects of therapy, as well as revealing signs of tumour recurrence. This kind of strategy forms the core of modern precision oncology.
Ultrashort pulses of laser light can be used to analyse the molecular composition of blood samples (serum or plasma) and can therefore reveal changes in states of health. The laser pulses excite the molecules in the sample, causing them to vibrate and emit broadband infrared radiation, which contains structural information about the molecules present in the sample. By comparing this signal with the emission from a reference sample, one can obtain a spectrum (molecular fingerprint) that reveals the differences in composition between the two samples…
For the reasons stated above, the Lasers4Life Consortium has initiated one of the largest international clinical trials of infrared spectroscopy ever undertaken.
This Lasers4Life Collaboration includes hospitals in Bavaria, the Helmholtz Center and international clinical centers in Europe, the USA and Asia, which together possess a unique range of expertise.
The Collaboration will use the newly developed method for infrared spectroscopy to analyse clinical samples obtained from healthy controls and from cancer patients. The resulting spectra will be compiled into an extensive and high-quality database and subjected to difference analyses. This large-scale differential effort should enable us to identify and define cancer-related molecular fingerprints, which are indicative for cancer of the lung, breast or prostate gland.
5 out of every 1000 women screened will have breast cancer. But 100 will need to undergo further tests.
We can do better than that!
In Western countries, approximately 40 out of every 100 men will develop carcinoma of the prostate gland over the course of their lives. Ten out of 100 will develop symptoms and three will die of the disease.
Imagine ..: You go for a check-up. A blood sample is taken, and the lab technician places the sample in an analytical scanner and switches on the laser. The sample is irradiated with a pulsed laser beam, which stimulates the emission of infrared light. The spectrum is then analyzed and within 15 minutes your doctor knows whether or not you have cancer.
This scenario has yet to be realized, but it is quite possible that it will soon be implemented in clinical settings.
About 100 out of every 1000 women who take part in the current screening procedure will need to undergo further tests. Only 5 will turn out to have breast cancer.
We can do better than that.
How can YOU help us?
Just visit the LMU Medical Center in Grosshadern and donate a 10-ml sample of your blood for our study. We look forward to seeing you.
Dates for Blood Donation:
At Klinikum Grosshadern (Marchioninistrasse 15)
Come to the main entrance of the hospital and
call us at 089.4400.59250
Contact Jacqueline Hermann by filling out our contact form or consult our catalogue of frequently asked questions (FAQ).
Your Contact persons for participation in the study (blood donation):
|Jacqueline Hermann||Katja Leitner|
Your contact person for further project information:
mihaela.zigman @ mpq.mpg.de
|Mihaela Žigman, Dr. rer. nat.|
For two decades the team around Prof. Dr. Ferenc Krausz has been pushing the limits of ultrashort pulse laser technology. The team's expertise enabled the development of new laser sources and measurement techniques that enable the recongnition of the molecular fingerprint.
The international Lasers4Life network, consisting of mathematicians, molecular scientists and clinincal oncologists, is working on the clinical approach to transfer the latest findings from basic research in laser physics as quickly as possible into viable diagnostic procedures for cancer detection.
The clinical partners involved in the studies (initially breast, lung and prostate cancer) include, in addition to leading Munich hospitals:
The Breast Center (Prof. Dr. med. Nadia Harbeck),
Pneumology (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Behr),
Radiology (Prof. Dr. med Maximilian Reiser),
Urology (Prof. Dr. med. Christian Stief) of the Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet
as well als Radio Oncology and Radiation Therapy of the Klinikum Rechts der Isar (Prof. Dr. Gabriele Multhoff) as well as other centers from all over the world (Beijing, New York, Singapore).
The definition and establishment of an optimal control cohort of healthy volunteers, as well as fingerprints of other common diseases is pursued by Lasers4Life in cooperation with the Helmholtz Center in Munich (Prof. Dr. Anette Peters).
A systematic comparison with mass-spectrometry-based molecular profiling techniques (proteomics and metabolomics) is carried out in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Prof. Dr. Matthias Mann).
we are working closely on the infrared molecular fingerprinting for lung cancer detection with the National Koranyi Institute in Budapest, Dr. Döme Balázs and Dr. Judith Moldvay.
Coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. High sensitivity and specificity approaches for detecting coronary heart disease are needed to improve detection of risk at earlier stages.
In collaboration with the Heart and Vascular Center of Semmelweis University, Dr. Béla Merkely and Dr. Tamás Radovits, we are assessing the feasibility and diagnostic potential of laser-based spectroscopic fingerprinting for improvement of early coronary heart disease detection.
We are also working with oncologists from Szeged, Hungary, coordinated and led by Dr. Hideghéty Katalin from the University of Szeged and the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) in Szeged. With this collaboration we are pursuing multi-centric clinical studies focused on the laser-based detection of several types of cancer.
The new ultrashort laser pulse technologies are fueling the hope of being able to shape the future of medicine.
We are grateful to the support of the KSU to the project.