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Terahertz spectroscopy to non-destructively probe and modulate protein electrodynamics: Fundamental basis for {THz} medicine

Rowe, D. J., Lewis, Richard J., Lim, E. L., Alam, S.-U., Nilsson, J., Baik, C.-W., Gurel, O., Wilkinson, J. S. and Richardson, D. J. 2013. Terahertz spectroscopy to non-destructively probe and modulate protein electrodynamics: Fundamental basis for {THz} medicine. Presented at: Bioelectrics 2013: 10th International Bioelectrics Symposium, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany, 16-19 September 2013.

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Proteins are dynamic macromolecules, exhibiting quasi-harmonic oscillations over the terahertz frequency range, as studied by both theoretical and experimental methods. Possessing both charges and dipoles, the electromagnetic absorption behavior of proteins—termed protein electrodynamics—presents exciting possibilities for entirely new modalities of medical diagnosis and therapy. THz medical imaging, usually based on pulsed, time-domain spectroscopic methods, has used differences in water absorption to obtain anatomic images. With continuous wave techniques, however, protein dynamics can be probed by narrow-band terahertz radiation, potentially providing native, label-free, contrast-free spectroscopy for attaining true biological specificity. Terahertz radiation might also be used to modulate these protein motions—influencing their function—thus suggesting an entirely new approach to medical therapeutics. This presentation reviews the theory underlying the protein electrodynamic hypothesis and shares recent results in the field, including work by the author and others, identifying specific terahertz frequency absorption in proteins. We review, too, the status of THz imaging in several clinical contexts, including the state-of-the art in desktop, real-time, and continuous wave systems. And while THz therapeutics remains an entirely novel, yet unproven concept, tantalizing clues lend credence to the possibility of such a phenomenon. Yet even with the rapid pace of these developments, the wider application of terahertz medicine suffers from several scientific and technical obstacles. Probably the most significant impediment is water absorption, which specifically limits penetration of tissue by terahertz radiation to only a few millimeters. In light of recent results in terahertz-water interactions, methods to overcome the tissue penetration problem are presented. Should these obstacles be overcome, the future is indeed bright for a new paradigm—Terahertz Medicine.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
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Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:21

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