Real-time cell imaging technique could transform research
An EU-funded team of scientists from Spain, Germany and Denmark is investigating a radical new MRI-based technique for ultra-detailed, real-time imaging of living cells. Results could transform cancer research, neuroscience, biophysics - and more.
© Sergey Nivens #122317794, source: fotolia.com 2018
Live cell imaging captures or visualises human tissue in action. Several methods have been developed to study living cells in greater detail and with less effort, helping scientists gain a better grasp of biological functions. But the sort of super-resolution required to make fundamental medical discoveries comes with a trade-off between resolution, speed and exposure to too much light using current imaging methods.
As technology and resolution improves, more and more detail can be detected showing even tiny changes to structures within the body. Now, the EU-funded HISTO-MRI project is taking that even further, developing technologies enabling non-invasive visualisation of individual human cells in real time based on a radical new application for magnetic resonance imaging called high-frequency pulsed MRI.
Groundbreaking tech needed
First, project scientists need to develop new methods for producing magnet coils based on 3D printing technology. The coils need to be able to withstand very high currents at high frequencies.
Novel high-frequency, high-voltage pulsed power sources are also essential to the projects work. In addition, new pulse sequencing and computer algorithms are needed to deal with, and analyse, the enormous amount of data collected.
The team plans to visualise a mouse brain at the neuron level as a proof of concept. Successfully implemented, this new technology could pave the way for transformational research in the neuroscience, bioengineering, biophysics and experimental oncology fields.
The project is establishing the foundations for a new field of research pulsed MRI in the high-frequency regime which has the potential to radically advance MRI performance to micron resolution.