Quantification of photonic localization properties of targeted nuclear mass density variations: Application in cancer-stage detection


Light localization is a phenomenon which arises due to the interference effects of light waves inside a disordered optical medium. Quantification of degree light localization in optical media is widely used for characterizing degree of structural disorder in that media. Recently, this light localization approach was extended to analyze structural changes in biological cell like heterogeneous optical media, with potential application in cancer diagnostics. Confocal fluorescence microscopy was used to construct “optical lattices,” which represents 2-dimensional refractive index map corresponding to the spatial mass density distribution of a selected molecule inside the cell. The structural disorder properties of the selected molecules were evaluated numerically using light localization strength in these optical lattices, in a single parameter called “disorder strength.” The method showed a promising potential in differentiating cancerous and non-cancerous cells. In this paper, we show that by quantifying submicron scale disorder strength in the nuclear DNA mass density distribution, a wide range of control and cancerous breast and prostate cells at different hierarchy levels of tumorigenicity were correctly distinguished. We also discuss how this photonic technique can be used in examining tumorigenicity level in unknown prostate cancer cells, and potential to generalize the method to other cancer cells.

Publication Title

Journal of Biophotonics