Multimodal Metabolic Imaging Reveals Pigment Reduction and Lipid Accumulation in Metastatic Melanoma

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Journal profile

The open access journal BME Frontiers (BMEF), published in association with SIBET CAS, is a platform for the multidisciplinary community of biomedical engineering, publishing wide-ranging research in the field.

Editorial board

BMEF's editorial board is led by Xingde Li (Johns Hopkins University), Yuguo Tang (Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology), and Guoqi Zhang (Delft University of Technology) and is comprised of leading experts in the field of biomedical engineering.


New name, same mission: As we seek to distinguish ourselves to the biomedical engineering community, we are taking the opportunity to refresh our logo and simplify our name. While our mission remains the same, we look forward to serving you as BMEF.

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Research Article

Label-Free White Blood Cell Classification Using Refractive Index Tomography and Deep Learning

Objective and Impact Statement. We propose a rapid and accurate blood cell identification method exploiting deep learning and label-free refractive index (RI) tomography. Our computational approach that fully utilizes tomographic information of bone marrow (BM) white blood cell (WBC) enables us to not only classify the blood cells with deep learning but also quantitatively study their morphological and biochemical properties for hematology research. Introduction. Conventional methods for examining blood cells, such as blood smear analysis by medical professionals and fluorescence-activated cell sorting, require significant time, costs, and domain knowledge that could affect test results. While label-free imaging techniques that use a specimen’s intrinsic contrast (e.g., multiphoton and Raman microscopy) have been used to characterize blood cells, their imaging procedures and instrumentations are relatively time-consuming and complex. Methods. The RI tomograms of the BM WBCs are acquired via Mach-Zehnder interferometer-based tomographic microscope and classified by a 3D convolutional neural network. We test our deep learning classifier for the four types of bone marrow WBC collected from healthy donors ( ): monocyte, myelocyte, B lymphocyte, and T lymphocyte. The quantitative parameters of WBC are directly obtained from the tomograms. Results. Our results show >99% accuracy for the binary classification of myeloids and lymphoids and >96% accuracy for the four-type classification of B and T lymphocytes, monocyte, and myelocytes. The feature learning capability of our approach is visualized via an unsupervised dimension reduction technique. Conclusion. We envision that the proposed cell classification framework can be easily integrated into existing blood cell investigation workflows, providing cost-effective and rapid diagnosis for hematologic malignancy.

Review Article

Recent Advances in Photoacoustic Tomography

Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) that integrates the molecular contrast of optical imaging with the high spatial resolution of ultrasound imaging in deep tissue has widespread applications in basic biological science, preclinical research, and clinical trials. Recently, tremendous progress has been made in PAT regarding technical innovations, preclinical applications, and clinical translations. Here, we selectively review the recent progresses and advances in PAT, including the development of advanced PAT systems for small-animal and human imaging, newly engineered optical probes for molecular imaging, broad-spectrum PAT for label-free imaging of biological tissues, high-throughput snapshot photoacoustic topography, and integration of machine learning for image reconstruction and processing. We envision that PAT will have further technical developments and more impactful applications in biomedicine.

Research Article

Optical Detection of Distal Lung Enzyme Activity in Human Inflammatory Lung Disease

Objective and Impact Statement. There is a need to develop platforms delineating inflammatory biology of the distal human lung. We describe a platform technology approach to detect in situ enzyme activity and observe drug inhibition in the distal human lung using a combination of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) optical reporters, fibered confocal fluorescence microscopy (FCFM), and a bespoke delivery device. Introduction. The development of new therapeutic agents is hindered by the lack of in vivo in situ experimental methodologies that can rapidly evaluate the biological activity or drug-target engagement in patients. Methods. We optimised a novel highly quenched optical molecular reporter of enzyme activity (FIB One) and developed a translational pathway for in-human assessment. Results. We demonstrate the specificity for matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) 2, 9, and 13 and probe dequenching within physiological levels of MMPs and feasibility of imaging within whole lung models in preclinical settings. Subsequently, in a first-in-human exploratory experimental medicine study of patients with fibroproliferative lung disease, we demonstrate, through FCFM, the MMP activity in the alveolar space measured through FIB One fluorescence increase (with pharmacological inhibition). Conclusion. This translational in situ approach enables a new methodology to demonstrate active drug target effects of the distal lung and consequently may inform therapeutic drug development pathways.

Research Article

Real-Time High-Resolution MRI Endoscopy at up to 10 Frames per Second

Objective. Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Optical endoscopy, ultrasound, and X-ray offer minimally invasive imaging assessments but have limited sensitivity for characterizing disease and therapeutic response. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) endoscopy is a newer idea employing tiny catheter-mounted detectors connected to the MRI scanner. It can see through vessel walls and provide soft-tissue sensitivity, but its slow imaging speed limits practical applications. Our goal is high-resolution MRI endoscopy with real-time imaging speeds comparable to existing modalities. Methods. Intravascular (3 mm) transmit-receive MRI endoscopes were fabricated for highly undersampled radial-projection MRI in a clinical 3-tesla MRI scanner. Iterative nonlinear reconstruction was accelerated using graphics processor units connected via a single ethernet cable to achieve true real-time endoscopy visualization at the scanner. MRI endoscopy was performed at 6-10 frames/sec and 200-300 μm resolution in human arterial specimens and porcine vessels ex vivo and in vivo and compared with fully sampled 0.3 frames/sec and three-dimensional reference scans using mutual information (MI) and structural similarity (3-SSIM) indices. Results. High-speed MRI endoscopy at 6-10 frames/sec was consistent with fully sampled MRI endoscopy and histology, with feasibility demonstrated in vivo in a large animal model. A 20-30-fold speed-up vs. 0.3 frames/sec reference scans came at a cost of ~7% in MI and ~45% in 3-SSIM, with reduced motion sensitivity. Conclusion. High-resolution MRI endoscopy can now be performed at frame rates comparable to those of X-ray and optical endoscopy and could provide an alternative to existing modalities, with MRI’s advantages of soft-tissue sensitivity and lack of ionizing radiation.

Review Article

Recent Advancements in Optical Harmonic Generation Microscopy: Applications and Perspectives

Second harmonic generation (SHG) and third harmonic generation (THG) microscopies have emerged as powerful imaging modalities to examine structural properties of a wide range of biological tissues. Although SHG and THG arise from very different contrast mechanisms, the two are complimentary and can often be collected simultaneously using a modified multiphoton microscope. In this review, we discuss the needed instrumentation for these modalities as well as the underlying theoretical principles of SHG and THG in tissue and describe how these can be leveraged to extract unique structural information. We provide an overview of recent advances showing how SHG microscopy has been used to evaluate collagen alterations in the extracellular matrix and how this has been used to advance our knowledge of cancers, fibroses, and the cornea, as well as in tissue engineering applications. Specific examples using polarization-resolved approaches and machine learning algorithms are highlighted. Similarly, we review how THG has enabled developmental biology and skin cancer studies due to its sensitivity to changes in refractive index, which are ubiquitous in all cell and tissue assemblies. Lastly, we offer perspectives and outlooks on future directions of SHG and THG microscopies and present unresolved questions, especially in terms of overall miniaturization and the development of microendoscopy instrumentation.

Research Article

Bioresorbable Multilayer Photonic Cavities as Temporary Implants for Tether-Free Measurements of Regional Tissue Temperatures

Objective and Impact Statement. Real-time monitoring of the temperatures of regional tissue microenvironments can serve as the diagnostic basis for treating various health conditions and diseases. Introduction. Traditional thermal sensors allow measurements at surfaces or at near-surface regions of the skin or of certain body cavities. Evaluations at depth require implanted devices connected to external readout electronics via physical interfaces that lead to risks for infection and movement constraints for the patient. Also, surgical extraction procedures after a period of need can introduce additional risks and costs. Methods. Here, we report a wireless, bioresorbable class of temperature sensor that exploits multilayer photonic cavities, for continuous optical measurements of regional, deep-tissue microenvironments over a timeframe of interest followed by complete clearance via natural body processes. Results. The designs decouple the influence of detection angle from temperature on the reflection spectra, to enable high accuracy in sensing, as supported by in vitro experiments and optical simulations. Studies with devices implanted into subcutaneous tissues of both awake, freely moving and asleep animal models illustrate the applicability of this technology for in vivo measurements. Conclusion. The results demonstrate the use of bioresorbable materials in advanced photonic structures with unique capabilities in tracking of thermal signatures of tissue microenvironments, with potential relevance to human healthcare.