Hearing cells through photoacoustic imaging: Nature Photonics Paper published by UCL's Professor Paul Beard

A research team led by IBME’s Professor Paul Beard, Professor of Biomedical Photoacoustics, Department of Medical Physics & Bioengineering UCL, has just had a paper published in Nature Photonics.


The article looks at a brand new medical imaging technique called photoacoustic tomography developed by Professor Beard’s research team, in collaboration with Dr Martin Pule, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Haematology, at UCL Cancer Institute. The published article showcases how fascinating new discoveries can emerge with innovative cross-STEM collaboration.


The new imaging technique combines novel genetic engineering with imaging science and technology. The research team genetically modified tumour cells to achieve pigmentation. By delivering nanosecond laser pulses to a tumour formed of these cells they were able to generate high frequency ultrasound waves. The waves were then detected at the tissue surface using a novel optical etalon based sensor and a detailed 3D image formed using a sophisticated image reconstruction algorithm based on acoustic time reversal.

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This constitutes the first time researches have been able to visualise cells in vivo in deep tissue with such clarity using this approach and offers the prospect of studying a wide range of disease, particularly cell growth in cancer, and developing new therapies.

Of this new research, Professor Paul Beard said: “This technology offers a wealth of new opportunities in cancer research for visualising cellular and genetic processes in vivo at the tissue or organ level”

You can read the article here: http://www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/v9/n4/full/nphoton.2015.22.html