Development of ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging tools for tracking of cells and particles
Kubelick, Kelsey P.
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Development of novel therapies relies heavily on histology to evaluate outcomes. While histology provides detailed information at the molecular level, drawbacks include highly invasive, destructive sample preparation. To this end, clinical translation of novel therapies would be expedited by further developing minimally invasive, longitudinal imaging methods to inform therapy design or provide clinical feedback. Combined ultrasound (US) and photoacoustic (PA) imaging augmented with contrast agents is an excellent option to address this need. This research describes development of a US/PA imaging toolbox, consisting of contrast agents, imaging protocols, imaging hardware, and detection algorithms, that can be tailored for a variety of applications where longitudinal, in vivo imaging of specific cells or particles is desired. To demonstrate versatility, these US/PA imaging tools were developed and combined in different ways for implementation in three distinct applications: 1) stem cell monitoring in ophthalmology to aid development of glaucoma therapies; 2) intra- and post-operative monitoring to guide stem cell therapies of the spinal cord; and 3) monitoring particle trafficking to the lymph node to inform vaccine design. Although the applications investigated here were extremely different, common themes were identified, highlighting broad relevance of the US/PA imaging toolbox and common opportunities for later development. Overall, the tools developed here lay the foundation for design of custom US/PA imaging platforms in the future.