Focus on fluorescent filming
The Scientist reported on its top ten life-science innovations for 2010 this week. One new technique improves the use of fluorescent markers to track the passage of medicines through a mouse in real time.
Researchers commonly bind a fluorescent marker to the compound they are studying. After adding the compound the researcher takes a ‘fluorescence photo' of the mouse. After subtracting the background fluorescence from a previous image, the researcher is left with an image showing the whereabouts of the compound.
In an improvement to fluorescence based imaging, scientists at Cambridge Research & Instrumentation Inc filmed the passage of fluorescence marked compounds through a mouse and used the known rate at which the compound is absorbed and circulated to improve the resolution of the ‘background subtraction'. Before this, background subtraction from moving images was more challenging that from a still image.
You can see the results in the film clip.
The technology could be especially useful for tracking how long cancer drugs remain active at their target before being metabolised and/or excreted. Normally, to obtain data about medicine accumulation in organs or tumours, it would be necessary to kill a small number of mice every hour or two over the course of a day. By continually collecting data in real time the number of mice needed could be reduced from between 100 and 200 to about 10.