Researchers in Michigan are using a technique called photoacoustic imaging to observe inflammed cells being grown in a culture dish. Inflammation is a key physiologic component of diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and heart disease.
Photoacoustic imaging is a process where a laser directed at tissue causes the tissue to heat up and expand. This expansion gives off sound waves which can be measured if the correct equipment is available to measure the sound energy. In addition, the use of certain materials can give better resolution to the recorded and measured sound.
Kang Kim and colleagues at the University of Michigan are using gold nanorods as one of these materials to detect the subtle differences in sound coming off inflammed tissue as opposed to non-inflammed tissue when it is subject to a laser.
His team stimulated endothelial cells from the human umbilical vein to become inflamed and to consequently express a molecule called ICAM-1. They then treated gold nanorods with antibodies to ICAM-1 and mixed them with the inflamed cells and also with endothelial cells that were not inflamed.
After one hour, the cells were rinsed with saline. The inflamed cells that now had the gold nanorods fixed to them had a much louder and distinct sound profile than did the non-inflamed cells.
Kim’s team is beginning experiments in animals to see if the gold nanorods coated with ICAM-1 antibodies will attach to inflamed cells in a living organism.
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