Scientists from Bar-Ilan University have found a new method to identify pathogens and other conditions through the use of gold-based nanorods (GNR).The study was led by Bar-Ilan Nano Institute director Prof. Dror Fixler, in cooperation with Prof. Ran Kornowski and Dr. Dorit Leshem from Beilinson Hospital, and was published in the academic journal Nano Letters. The study detailed how GNR can be scattered in order to identify changes in white blood cells, specifically in the type of white blood cell known as macrophages. These cells act as the immune response’s most efficient tool, due to their special characteristics. Specifically, there are two main types of macrophages, M1, which focuses on eliminating foreign threats, and M2, which focuses on healing. Typically, the immune system is balanced between the two types of macrophage, but this balance is affected by diseases such as bacteria, viruses or parasite infections, or inflammations for atherosclerosis, cancer or arthritis.Being able to identify these shifts in balance could lead to easier and more efficient means of diagnostics and preventative treatments.However, there has yet to be a means of easily detecting these changes.GNR, however, can do just that. This is due to their prominent optical property, which has high absorbance even when scattered. Using this, the team was able to identify notable optical changes in the macrophages, allowing them to be used to monitor physiological changes in blood and tissue samples.”Our approach in utilizing the scattering of GNRs to identify M1 and M2 macrophages opens a new strategy in cellular identifications using FCM with the help of increased scattering of internalized nanoparticles,” Dr. Ruchira Chakraborty, leading researcher at Fixler’s laboratory at Bar-Ilan University’s Kofkin Faculty of Engineering and Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, said in a statement. “Further development of this technique will lead us to build a new point of care or a biopsy tool which can predict the stages of manifestation of diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis, and fibrosis just from the simple tissue fluids or blood samples,” Fixler added.