IMSaT houses two state-of-the-art photonics laboratories. The research is led by Dr Mike MacDonald
and Dr Paul Prentice
, and covers a very broad range of photonics-based applications in medicine and the life sciences.
The major research themes include
- Particle manipulation via optical and acoustic techniques
- Laser-facilitated cavitation studies
- Advanced optical microscopy techniques
- Laser vibrometry
- Laser-spectroscopy of tissue (as part of FAST-DOT project)
Cavitation refers to the formation of bubbles (or cavities) in liquids or tissue. The phenomenon is a common spontaneous occurrence in High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HiFU), for example in the application of Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS), for tissue ablation. Indeed, cavitation has demonstrated significant potential to mediate enhanced therapeutic effects during FUS, including rapid heating and tissue permeabilisation. In another manifestation, ultrasound contrast agents (stabilised microbubble suspensions) have been shown to permeabilise lipid bilayer cell membranes, under focused ultrasound exposure, as a potential non-viral and minimally-invasive drug delivery mechanism.
At IMSaT, the cavitation team lead by Dr Prentice, explore the potential of cavitation to mediate therapy. We work to deliver a better fundamental understanding of cavitation in under ultrasound exposure, particularly its interaction with the ultrasound itself, the host medium and other proximal cavitation sites, with a view to ultimately manipulating its effects. To this end, we adopt a number of photonics-based approaches, including laser-nucleation and optical trapping, to gain a level of control over this challenging and fascinating phenomenon.
An Optically trapped 3 micron contrast agent bubble, responding to 1.1MHz focused ultrasound of 1.4MPa pressure amplitude.
Laser-nucleated acoustic cavitation in a focused ultrasound field, of Mechanical Index (MI) = 3.4. Cloud development and translation is evident.
This work is supported by EU FP7 funded 'Nanoporation' grant.