A study conducted by researchers at Aston University has shown that the appearance of aging skin looks significantly different compared to younger skin when examined under polarized laser light.
The scientists believe that their new discovery could pave the way for new non-invasive light-based techniques for disease detection, including cancer, in older individuals. This could significantly improve early-stage treatment options for various skin conditions.
It has already been found that two classes of polarizers, linear and circular, can detect skin changes that are not visible to the human eye.
The new study suggests that altered light scattering properties of aging skin are largely due to changes in skin structure associated with the depletion of collagen fibers in the skin layer.
The research was led by Igor Meglinski, Professor of Quantum Biophotonics and Biomedical Engineering, and carried out under his supervision with Dr. Viktor Dremin of the Institute of Photonic Technologies at Aston University. The article „Incemental residual polarization caused by aging in human skin“ will be published in the May 2024 issue of the Journal of Biomedical Optics.
The researchers analyzed images of the middle fingers of 32 volunteers aged 22 to 76 to examine skin aging. They also used the Monte Carlo method, a mathematical technique, to depict the effects of light circulation in human skin. This technique was developed by Professor Meglinski in 2001. Combined with the visual data from the images, this allowed the researchers to draw conclusions about the optical properties of aging skin.
Our research provides a comprehensive analysis of the effect of age on the polarization properties of human skin. This could be a stepping stone for the development of non-invasive, light-based techniques for early detection of skin diseases, including cancer, in older individuals.“
Igor Meglinski, Professor of Quantum Biophotonics and Biomedical Engineering
The research findings could support the development of a method for skin analysis that does not rely on the patient undergoing a biopsy or surgical procedure. It could enable an immediate assessment of age-related skin changes and be expanded to monitor changes associated with the development of diabetes and other diseases.
The research was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland and the University of Latvia.
Dremin, V., (2023). Incremental residual polarization caused by aging in human skin. Journal of Biomedical Optics. doi.org/10.1117/1.jbo.29.5.052912.