Biotech Updates

Duke Bioengineers Develop Optical Equivalent of Ultrasound

November 4, 2011

Duke University bioengineers have developed a new method that is an optical equivalent of ultrasound. Using this method, molecular events occurring under the skin are not just seen in 3D, but also in their true colors. Thus, it shows the different levels of hemoglobin being carried by the blood levels through vivid shades of red. Other molecules are also visible, such as medical dyes used to trace important biological mechanisms.

The bioengineers came up with the new technique by modifying optical coherence tomography (OCT), a technique used by physicians and researches to see cross-sectional images of tissues. However, the conventional OCT does not provide some basic functional information such as absorption.

"We expect that this new technique will have several important applications, such as visualizing tumor development processes like angiogenesis and oxygen deprivation," said Adam Wax, one of the bioengineers at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "It also could help in detecting disease of the eye, especially those that impact the tiny vessels of the eye. It may have effectiveness in monitoring the delivery and effectiveness of drugs," he added.