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'Nanojuice' to give real time view of gut

Posted on Jul 07 2014 | IANS

New York, July 7 : In ray of hope for patients suffering from various gastrointestinal illnesses, researchers are developing a "nanojuice" that, when gulped down, would provide doctors an unparalleled, non-invasive view of the gut.

This new imaging technique from University at Buffalo researchers involves nanoparticles suspended in liquid.

Upon reaching the small intestine, doctors can strike the nanoparticles with a harmless laser light, providing a real-time view of the organ.

"Conventional imaging methods show the organ and blockages but this method allows you to see how the small intestine operates in real time," said Jonathan Lovell, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at University at Buffalo, the US.

Currently, to assess the organ, doctors typically require patients to drink a thick, chalky liquid called barium.

Doctors then use X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasounds to assess the organ but these techniques are limited.

For the new method, Lovell and his team worked with a family of dyes called naphthalcyanines.

The researchers formed nanoparticles called "nanonaps" that contain the colourful dye molecules and added the abilities to disperse in liquid and move safely through the intestine.

In lab experiments, they administered the nanojuice orally in mice.

They then used photoacoustic tomography (PAT), which is pulsed laser lights that generate pressure waves that and received a real-time and more nuanced view of the small intestine.

"We plan to continue to refine the technique for human trials and move into other areas of the gastrointestinal tract," Lovell added in a paper that appeared in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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