Molecular Imaging

We have developed a new technique to acquire detailed images of small animals using optical methods. This work is described in our recent article in Nature Photonics.

Molecular imaging uses targeted dyes to reveal in-vivo biochemical processes such as those specific to cancer tumors. The field of optical molecular imaging is rapidly accelerating and has captured the interest of major pharmaceutical companies, keen to use these tools for drug development and disease process research. Developed dyes may ultimately also be useful for clinical diagnostics and therapies.

However, despite its great potential, to date the widespread adoption of optical molecular imaging has been inhibited by poor resolution and difficulties in interpreting images. Our new technique addresses the urgent need for improved imaging resolution, dye specificity, contrast and anatomical co-registration for in-vivo imaging in small animals.

We found that the in-vivo dynamics of a dye can be harnessed to reveal incredible detail, clearly delineating internal organs. Previous attempts to provide anatomical information for optical molecular imaging included incorporation of x-ray CT, x-ray and MRI modalities. Our method offers improved performance, versatility and co-registration at a fraction of the cost and complexity of multi-modality systems.

    DyCE time-series
    Bright-field PCA Organs Unmixed Organs

Related Publications

Hillman EMC, Amoozegar CB, Wang T, McCaslin AFH, Bouchard MB, Mansfield JR, Levenson RM, “In-vivo optical imaging and dynamic contrast methods for biomedical research” Phil. Trans. Royal Soc A. 369 (1955), 4620-4643 (2011).


Hillman E. M. C and Moore A. "All-optical anatomical co-registration for molecular imaging of small animals using dynamic contrast", Nature Photonics, 1 (9), 526 - 530, 2007.


Interview with Hillman E. M. C, “Imaging Animal Anatomy”, Nature Photonics 1, 548 (2007)

Achilefu S. “Biophotonics: Unravelling animal anatomy” (News & Views), Nature Photonics, 1 (9), 496 - 497 (2007)


Reviewed as “Biophotomics Research Highlight”: in November’s Biophotonics International


Development of dynamic contrast enhancement (DyCE) is funded by a Phase I SBIR from NIBIB in collab-oration with Cambridge Research & Instrumentation (CRi). CRi are developing and marketing the DyCE method for incorporation into their Maestro small animal imaging systems. DyCE at CRi
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