Noninvasive intestine imaging

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015 by in Academic Departments, Biomedical Engineering, Healthcare and Medicine, Issues, Magazine, Research

A multi-institutional team of researchers has developed a new nanoscale agent for imaging the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This safe and noninvasive method for assessing the function and properties of the GI tract in real time could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of gut diseases.

Illnesses such as small bowel bacterial overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease all occur in the intestine and can lead to serious side effects in patients with diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s.

Until now, there has been no good way to functionally image the intestine. However, the researchers combined photoacoustic imaging and positron emission tomography (PET) and created a multimodal functional imaging agent that could be used to noninvasively image the intestine in real time. They described their advance in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Weibo Cai, an associate professor of radiology, medical physics and biomedical engineering, worked with Jonathan Lovell, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Chulhong Kim, an assistant professor of creative IT engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea. They developed a family of nanoparticles that can provide good optical imaging contrast, withstandharsh stomach and intestine conditions, and avoid absorption into the body.

In the future, patients will drink a liquid that includes the nanoparticles—which contain bright dyes—and an imaging technician can noninvasively view the illuminated intestine with photoacoustic imaging. “We can actually see the movement of the intestine in real time,” Lovell says.

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