The Bio-Imaging Lab is located in a new purpose-built building (Uc ‘you see’), equipped with state-of-the art infrastructure.
The lab has equipment for in vivo non-invasive small animal imaging, including these modalities:
Small animal NMR scanners
Magnetic resonance imaging is the ideal technique to visualize the anatomical structure of soft tissues like the brain. MRI is able to reveal specific molecular information as well. For example diffusion MRI uses the Brownian movement of water molecules in the brain to track nerves and to unravel (pathological) changes at the molecular level. Spectroscopy on the other hand allows for monitoring the biochemical signature of tissues. Other applications are based on the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal which indirectly measures brain activation.
The lab has 4 NMR scanners at its disposal:
- Two 7T Pharmascans (Bruker BioSpin, Germany).
- One 9.4T BioSpec (Bruker BioSpin, Germany).
- One Benchtop 4.7T MR System (MR Solutions, UK).
A variety of RF coils for imaging and spectroscopic purposes are available either from Brüker or from hardware development in the lab.
We are equipped with animal monitoring devices (pulse oxygenation, temperature, respiration and ECG) (SA Instruments), workstations for image processing (MedX, IDL) and simultaneous EEG/MRI facilities with OSG software.
Bio-Luminescence Imaging cameras
Bio-luminescence is the emission of light by luminescent proteins, it occurs naturally in for example fireflies and glow worms. If the DNA encoding the luminescent protein is artificially incorporated into laboratory animals, the BLI technique can be applied to study biomedical processes in the animal.
The lab has two camaras for dynamic in vivo bio-luminescence and fluorescence imaging:
- One Biospace Photon Imager
- One IVIS camera (owned by Dept.of Medicine - Oncolocy)
Micro Computerized Tomography (CT)
The lab also has access to micro-tomography instruments at the Micro CT Scan Research Group. These scanners use X-rays to generate 3D images of the internal structures of the animal. The contrast in the image is based on the fact that each of these structures has a different X-ray absorption rate. Dense structures like bone are easiest to discern on CT.
The in vivo micro-CT (Skyscan 1076) provides a high resolution low-dose X-ray scan in small laboratory animals to a maximal spatial resolution of up to 9 µm. The in vitro micro-CT (Skyscan 1072) is a compact, desktop X-ray system for a non-invasive analysis of the inner structure of small specimen (< 1 cm3). At 80keV a resolution of 8 µm can be achieved. Both scanners care capable of providing virtual cross-sections as well as 3D reconstructions.