Using a liquid laser, researchers have developed a better way to detect slight genetic mutations that may predispose a person to cancer or other diseases. This work could advance understanding of the genetic basis of diseases and has applications in personalized medicine, which targets drugs and other therapies to patients based on their genes. The researchers say their technique works much better than the current approach, which uses fluorescent dye and other biological molecules to bind to mutated DNA strands. In the conventional fluorescence technique, the signal from mutated DNA might be only a few tenths of a percent higher than the background noise. With the new approach it's hundreds of times brighter. Liquid lasers, discovered in the late '60s, amplify light by passing it through a dye, rather than a crystal, as solid-state lasers do. The university is pursuing patent protection for this innovation and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring it to market.