MEDICA talked to biochemist and head of the study, Dr. Oliver Bruns, and asked him about the applications of SWIR imaging (short-wave infrared region).
Dr. Bruns, why do you see a need for non-invasive medical imaging?
Oliver Bruns: Non-invasive medical imaging aims to highlight physiological and pathological processes inside the living body. Ideally, this is achieved with cellular resolution and molecular specificity. Until now, it usually took invasive processes with dyes and sequencing of biopsy material to attain this type of resolution and specificity. However, non-invasive imaging allows us to analyze larger volumes more quickly. It also facilitates the repeated careful and gentle examination and long-term monitoring of diseased or jeopardized tissue.
How does the imaging technology you have developed work?
Bruns: Unlike other medical imaging technologies, our process is very simple. We highlight the tissue with infrared light and then image the resulting fluorescence. We often also inject a contrast agent intravenously to color specific structures we want to analyze.
SWIR imaging has long been used in industrial processes. How can the method be transferred to use it at a medical level?
Bruns: We adapt the industrial cameras and integrate them into our biomedical imaging systems. Combined with the excitation sources and innovative contrast agents, we achieve impressive resolution and dynamic range of imaging. We want to provide this information to help surgeons and radiology experts with improved image-guided therapy.