Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronaut's Eyes May Become Windows On The Bloodstream

Date:
December 3, 2004
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
Our eyes may become more than windows of the soul if a multidisciplinary team of University of Michigan researchers succeeds with a clever combination of nanoparticles and ultrafast pulsed laser to see individual cells as they zip past in the bloodstream.

Credit: Photo National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Our eyes may become more than windows of the soul if a multidisciplinary team of University of Michigan researchers succeeds with a clever combination of nanoparticles and ultrafast pulsed laser to see individual cells as they zip past in the bloodstream.

Related Articles


The U-M team of physicians, scientists and engineers has $3 million from NASA to determine a way of detecting radiation exposure on the fly by looking for individual cells that have been harmed. Now, such cell counting is only achieved by drawing blood and using an expensive machine called a cytometer, operated by a skilled lab technician.

A certain amount of cell death is normal and expected, so there would always be some background fluorescence. What the researchers are looking for is a sudden increase in the population of dead white blood cells, which is one of the calling cards of radiation poisoning.

NASA is particularly concerned with radiation exposure as one of the leading health risks in long-term space travel. Radiation—sub-atomic particles moving at tremendous speeds—careens in all directions in space. It can kill cells and damage the DNA within them, causing long-term health problems, especially cancers.

Individual cells in the bloodstream are tagged with a nanoparticle called a dendrimer that is much smaller than a blood cell. It's a synthetic that is grown in layers of branching molecules that resemble a tree. At the tips of these branches on the dendrimer, scientists can attach biomolecules that have specific affinity for the white blood cells. Other arms of the dendrimer carry a fluorescent material that will light up on cue if the white blood cell dies.

The idea of using dendrimers for real-time cell counting came from Dr. James R. Baker Jr., the Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Biologic Nanotechnology and director of U-M's Center for Biologic Nanotechnology. His research group is also exploring the use of dendrimers for drug delivery and improved medical imaging.

To see cells as they flow, the researchers are using a pulsed laser developed by physicist Theodore Norris of the U-M's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science that can be focused down to a spot smaller than a cell. "Jim (Baker) was wondering about cytometry in vivo, and we came in with a photonic solution," Norris said. Both researchers are part of the newly-formed NASA Bioscience and Engineering Institute at U-M.

The spot-focused laser allows researchers to watch a capillary blood vessel just a few blood cells in diameter and to count individual spots of fluorescence as they zip past. The focal area of the near-infrared laser is so tight that they can be sure that each flash of fluorescence represents just a single cell, said Norris, professor of electrical engineering and applied physics.

"This could be used for more than just radiation exposure," Baker said. "We should be able to continually monitor cell death from whatever cause."

On Earth, we are protected from most of this space radiation by the planet's magnetic field and by the thickness of the planet itself beneath our feet. But away from the Earth, astronauts will have only the vehicle around them and their clothing to shield them.

It is estimated that a 2-1/2-year mission to Mars could expose an astronaut to the lifetime dose of radiation allowed by NASA. An intense solar flare during the journey could even deliver a fatal dose of radiation in a single burst.

"NASA has told us that the trip to Mars could be one-way," Norris said. "Still, they've got people who are willing to do it."

U-M studies on living mice have shined the light through their semi-translucent ears to see the fluorescing dendrimers within capillaries. The proposal to NASA was for using the capillaries on the retina at the back of the eye, but human ears might work just as well. "We just need to see a capillary," Norris said. "It doesn't have to be in the eye."

For more information, visit: http://www.umnbei.umich.edu/

For more on Baker, visit: http://ipumich.temppublish.com/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=945

For more on Norris, visit: http://www.eecs.umich.edu/OSL/Norris/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Astronaut's Eyes May Become Windows On The Bloodstream." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203101104.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2004, December 3). Astronaut's Eyes May Become Windows On The Bloodstream. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203101104.htm
University Of Michigan. "Astronaut's Eyes May Become Windows On The Bloodstream." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041203101104.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins