The ability to visualize biological processes in living organisms continuously, instead of at discrete time points, holds a great promise for studies of functional and molecular events, disease progression and treatment monitoring. Optical spectrum is particularly attractive for biological interrogations as it can impart highly versatile contrast of cellular and sub-cellular function as well as employ highly specific contrast agents and markers not available for other modalities. However, technical limitations arising from intense light scattering in living tissues bound the main-stream of high resolution optical imaging applications to microscopic studies at shallow depths that do not allow the exploration of the full potential of novel classes of agents for volumetric imaging of entire organs, small animals or human tissues.
To overcome limitations of the current imaging techniques, this proposal aims to develop a novel high performance optoacoustic imaging technology and explore its groundbreaking potential for neuroimaging and monitoring of cardiovascular disease. I will undertake a substantial technological step that will bring optoacoustic imaging to a real time (video rate) high resolution performance level the like of which has not existed so far. The resulting technique will be able to image several millimeters to centimeters into living small animals and potentially humans, with both high spatial resolution and sensitivity, being independent of photon scattering. This will make it suitable for attaining high dynamic contrast in intact tissues and an ideal candidate for both intrinsic and targeted biomarker-based imaging. It is hypothesized that these unparalleled imaging capabilities will allow observations of new classes of dynamic interactions at different time scales, from relatively slow varying inflammation-related molecular events to video rate visualization of neuronal activity in deep brain regions, otherwise invisible with other imaging methods.
Start Date: 01.10.2010 End Date: 30.09.2015 EU Contribution: Total Costs: Funding Scheme: ERC Starting Grant 2010 Administrative Contact Person: Dr Juergen Ertel, ertel(at)helmholtz-muenchen.de