Harvey Rubin from the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. will develop a new quantitative imaging technology that uses acoustics to measure the total body levels of the tuberculosis-causing bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Current imaging methods are generally expensive or unable to measure in all parts of the body. This technology involves shining near-infrared light, which is safe and can penetrate deep into the body, to thermally expand a molecule activated in the presence of M. tuberculosis. This thermal expansion results in the emission of a specific sound that can be detected using standard ultrasound equipment. They have selected a reducing enzyme from the bacterium for activating the molecule, and will build around 100 different combinations of the enzyme substrate, linker and light-absorbing molecule. These will be tested in the laboratory using various models and a high-resolution real time 3D photoacoustic scanner to identify the optimal conjugate.
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