A molecular imaging technique with the use of new nanotechnology would allow physicians to view the gastrointestinal tract in real time for the first time, according to a study published in Nature Nanotechnology.
Conventional imaging of the GI tract uses x-ray, magnetic resonance or ultrasound, which present limitations such as limited access and lack of contrast. However, functional imaging would provide clinicians with a comprehensive understanding of how the GI tract works.
To come up with a better way to image the functionality of the intestines, researchers developed a set of nanoparticles that provide optimal contrast for imaging, withstand the conditions of the stomach and intestine, and avoid absorption in the body. The nanoparticles, which contain bright dyes, were then used in combination with photoacoustic imaging and positron emission tomography to produce high-resolution, whole-body dynamic images of intestinal processes.
The study’s authors said that so far, successful trials have been conducted in mice. They concluded that more research is necessary, including human trials, to develop and refine the technique before it can be used in clinical practice.