New Imaging Technology Advances Personalized Heart Treatment

Achievement date: 

Boston University’s (BU) Nanotechnology Innovation Center researchers have developed a microscope that provides better and faster imaging of living tissue, significantly advancing capabilities to provide effective personalized treatment of heart disease. Demonstration of the technology in proof of principle experiments has been so successful that efforts are already underway to license and commercialize it. This work is being supported by the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) in Cellular Metamaterials (CELL-MET), headquartered at BU with partners including University of Michigan, Florida International University, Harvard, Columbia, Argonne National Lab, EPFL (Switzerland), and Centro Atomico-Bariloche (Argentina).


CELL-MET’s priority is to synthesize breakthroughs in nanotechnology and manufacturing with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) provides high resolution images from deep within living tissue and is an essential tool in efforts to transform cardiovascular care. However, MPM was restricted to 2-dimensional imaging due to speed and performance limitations. The innovative CELL-MET microscope overcomes these challenges, enabling fast, high-resolution 3-D imaging deep within thick tissue. The technology is a major breakthrough and will be ideally suited for imaging living cardiac tissue. It is also very versatile and can be cost-effectively implemented as a simple add-on to existing MPMs.


The new technique, called reverberation MPM, enables 3-D volumetric (multiplane) imaging at the same speed as 2-D planar (single plane) imaging, with minimal compromise in performance. Current MPM is generally based on single-point laser-focus scanning, which is intrinsically slow. While speeds as fast as video rate had become routine for 2-D planar imaging, such speeds were unattainable for 3D volumetric imaging without severely compromising microscope performance. Using reverberation MPM, an arbitrary number of planes, in principle unlimited, are acquired by near-instantaneous axial scanning while maintaining 3D micron-scale resolution.