Professor Jeff Chan and his graduate student, Hailey Knox have developed a new small-molecule probe that can be used for the detection of hypoxia in deep tissue using photoacoustic imaging. Hypoxia occurs when low oxygen levels are present in tissue, and is associated with a number of different diseases. In particular, hypoxia is a key characteristic of the tumor microenvironment. Detecting hypoxia in vivo can help lead to better understanding of the role it plays in tumor progression and metastasis, as well as to predict treatment responses and patient prognosis. Our lab is interested in using photoacoustic imaging because it is a safe imaging modality that combines advantages of optical and ultrasound imaging. Using our probe, we can reliably detect hypoxia in deep tissue with high resolution using photoacoustic imaging.
In our paper, we show that our probe can be used in cell culture, as well as in two animal models: a hypoxic tumor model, and a hindlimb ischemia model of peripheral artery disease. Our future studies are aimed at using our probe to study the role of hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment. There paper is published in Nature Communications.