Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism as illustrated by fireflies. The same principle can be applied to medical imaging. Transfection of cells (e.g. tumor cells, cancer cells etc.) with luciferase and subsequent addition of the luciferine substrate allows for tracking specific (viable) cells in small animals in a non-invasive manner. Within IMARK a Biospace Photon Imager is available at the Bio-Imaging Lab core facility. This camera system is suitable for real time detection of bioluminescence (or fluorescence) signals in vivo and ex vivo. The Photon Imager is a highly appropriate tool for stem cell (e.g. neuroregeneration) and cancer research.
Additionally, the system can also be used to study biodistribution and pharmacokinetics of fluorochrome-labelled substances. At present a number of fluorescent probes are commercially available to researchers to study molecular pathways and processes in vivo by optical imaging.