Deep-Tissue Imaging Breakthrough: SWIR Raman Probes Unveiled

A collaborative international effort, jointly led by Prof. Dr. Oliver Bruns, Dr. Andriy Chmyrov, Prof. Ellen Sletten and Prof. Christopher Rowlands, is poised to revolutionize deep-tissue optical imaging by harnessing the advantages of infrared optics for unparalleled tissue penetration.

Conquering challenges in infrared fluorophore development, they propose a groundbreaking strategy that is exploiting the potential of the short-wave infrared (SWIR, 1000-2000 nm) region to overcome limitations in optical imaging techniques commonly used in biological research.

These techniques, including confocal microscopy and light-sheet microscopy, encounter difficulties in reaching deep tissue layers due to the restrictions posed by light interactions of visible and near-infrared wavelengths. The team's main strategy to address these constraints involves operating said techniques in the SWIR, where scattering is significantly reduced, offering significant increase in the penetration depth compared to current methods.

Endowed with a 2.2 million USD grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, this visionary initiative is poised to delve into intricate photophysical studies with the primary objective to determine optimal imaging conditions, unlocking the potential for profound insights in deep imaging within dense and metabolically relevant tissues. Simultaneously, the team is committed to the development of bespoke long-wavelength Raman probes meticulously designed for optimal SWIR excitation. In tandem, they will embark on the construction of an advanced SWIR-Oblique Plane Microscope (SWIR-OPM), integrating cutting-edge Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) capabilities. This collective endeavor aspires to unveil the practical utility of Raman detection, thereby offering unprecedented metabolic imaging capabilities within living mice.

With the innovative SWIR-OPM design representing a significant advancement overcoming limitations associated with conventional light-sheet microscopy, the team is set to pioneer a new era in deep-tissue imaging, with potential applications in various fields within biological research and medical diagnostics.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative