Scientists have developed a new sensor for biomedical imaging which could have implications for a range of illnesses.
Researchers at Cardiff University's School of Chemistry have developed a new luminescent sensor which detects the presence of zinc in the body.
Patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease frequently exhibit imbalances of zinc, which is essential for growth and development, and the new sensor could enable doctors to better understand tissue and organ function.
The sensor uses a chemical called europium which changes colour whenever zinc is present.
Researcher Dr Simon Pope said that the work represented a "proof-in-principle" in the design of ensors for biomedical imaging.
"Our approach is to design molecules that are non-toxic to the body and that can be applied to scanning techniques such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and luminescence imaging," Dr Pope explained.
"Our next goal is to improve the properties of the sensor to potentially allow a greater imaging depth within tissue," he added.
The average NHS waiting time for a non-emergency MRI scan is over seven weeks; however, a number of private diagnostic imaging companies offer MRI scans, as well as other services such as CT scans and general X-rays, for patients who prefer not to wait.