Cai and Lovell worked collaboratively to use two imaging techniques. Cai specializes in PET imaging which uses radioisotope-based tracers and is used in health care settings for noninvasive, whole-body imaging. Lovell and Kim's expertise is in photoacoustic imaging, a technique that draws on ultrasound to generate high-definition images through light-based imaging.
While photoacoustic techniques yield high-definition images, PET imaging can penetrate deeper and image the entire body. Combining the two delivers the most information possible: high-definition images, images deep inside the body and a view of the intestine in relation to the entire body.
So far, the researchers have conducted successful test trials in mice and are hoping to move to human trials soon. "This is one of the first studies using both imaging techniques," Cai says. "The two imaging techniques work well together and get us all of the information that we need."
Both Lovell and Cai are excited about what the new imaging agent might mean for patients. "We could potentially induce a paradigm shift that allows for much more routine examination of the intestine function," Lovell says. "That would really benefit overall health."
Cai hopes the imaging agent can be targeted to look for certain disease-related markers and be used in therapeutic applications in the near future. "It is everything I would hope for in an imaging agent, and it is safe since we use FDA-approved agents to make these nanoparticles. That is why I am so excited about this," he says. "These are the promising first steps."
|Contact: Weibo Cai|
University of Wisconsin-Madison