Scientists develop technology that looks deeper at the skin repair system

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Scientists develop technology that looks deeper at the skin repair system

Related tags Skin

A team of researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois have developed a tool that can visualize cellular-level structural and biomechanical data to provide new insight into complex processes in the skin.

According to the scientists, the multimodal optical microscopy device, when coupled with advanced image co-registration algorithms, can account for soft-tissue deformations that may occur over the time-course of weeks and months. 

“This is a remarkable combination of optical hardware and software technology that opens the door for future clinical applications​,” says Stephen Boppart, Ph.D., and senior author of the research that appears in the journal ‘Technology’.

How it works

The researchers say this new mulitmodal imaging technology has the ability to track cell and tissue dynamics over many months and will yield enormous volumes of data that will undoubtedly provide clues into many complex processes in the skin.

This not only offers a new tool for basic science and pre-clinical investigations, but also the potential for human clinical investigations into the dynamics of skin and the effectiveness of new cosmetic applications,”​ says Boppart.

The technology works by spatially co-registering images from multiple modalities including optical coherence, two-photon excitation, second harmonic, and phase-variance microscopy, as well as co-registering volumetric image datasets temporally at time-points that span several months.

And as a result, the investigators were able to visualize the processes of wound healing and skin regeneration, as well as angiogenesis and tissue biomechanics including skin contraction. “This is a nice example of where advances in imaging technology can enable both biological discovery as well as clinical applications​,” adds another leading scientist, Ben Graf.

What the team plans to do with it now...

The team from the Beckman Institute plans to now begin to translate these technologies into clinical applications, such as investigating differences in cell and tissue dynamics over short- and long-term time periods for skin regeneration in normal and diabetic pre-clinical models. 

With the large volumes of spatial and temporal data generated from this system, the scientists are also exploring how they can exploit the co-registered data to discover new biomarkers and diagnostic parameters that may provide clues into fundamental disease mechanisms.

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