Dual Imaging of Microvascular Blood Flow for Disease Diagnosis
Allocated in academic year 2014-15
The nature of blood flow in microvessels plays a critical role in many diseases. Our clinical collaborators in Moorfields Eye Hospital are particularly interested in the retinal applications of our flowmetry system. Moreover, both techniques have potential for deeper imaging of blood flow: in particular, photoacoustic flowmetry can penetrate several centimetres below the tissue surface on account of the relatively weak scattering of ultrasound compared to light. This could be beneficial, for example in the diagnosis, understanding and treatment of tumours, which have already been imaged in vivo using photoacoustics. Demonstration and understanding of the action of vascular disrupting agents would be greatly enhanced by a map of the blood flow in the tumour vessels.
The project will be highly interdisciplinary encompassing applied optics, acoustics, imaging science, phlebotomy, fluid dynamics and tumour biology. In order for the student to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills in these areas, a variety of training modules will be undertaken. The initial mini project in the MRes year will be designed to familiarise the student with essential experimental procedures involving lasers, ultrasound receivers, perfusion systems and the preparation of blood flow phantoms.
In addition, training will be provided in LabVIEW and MATLAB computer programming, radiation protection, microscopy (confocal, brightfield and fluorescence), and in animal handling (resulting in a Home Office Licence). It is envisaged that by the end of the MRes year, the student will be competent in acquiring blood flow data using both µPIV and photoacoustic flowmetry separately, and therefore at the start of the first PhD year they will be in a position to tackle the dual imaging approach.
In summary, this project has great potential for enhancing our understanding of two blood flow imaging techniques: µPIV, which is relatively well-established, but still requires further development, and photoacoustic flowmetry, which is still in its infancy. The application of these experimental methodologies will provide tools for investigating a range of RBC properties and haemodynamic parameters that have a significant impact in many clinical conditions ranging from eye diseases and skin grafts to diabetes and cancers.