Multi-Colour Wide-Field Fluorescence Microendoscopy

Light-emitting fluorophores are the key ingredient to the science behind Versicolor.

Objects of interest are injected with fluorophores (fluorescent compounds), usually fluorescent molecules or antibodies. They can also genetically modify proteins to express fluorescence which is particularly useful in live cells. These fluorophores are then exposed to a high-intensity light source, which causes them to emit different wavelengths of light and therefore different colours.

The technique has allowed multiple applications for health and disease. For example, pathologists use immuno-fluorescence microscopy to analyse biological samples (biopsies) in order to identify bacteria and pathogens specific to certain disorders. Being able to distinguish between bacteria and other pathogens is the main driver of the Proteus project, in order to provide quicker and more accurate diagnoses.

Endoscopy uses an optical fibre to transmit the image of interest to an external camera to examine the interior of an organ or cavity. This is beneficial for clinicians as it is a non-invasive procedure common to many fields of medicine, which can relay important information for investigation of symptoms or confirmation of diagnosis.

Proteus researchers combine both endoscopy and fluorescent microscopy techniques in what is known as wide-field fluorescence endoscopy, which allows labelled bacteria and lung tissue in vivo to be viewed in real time.

Currently, it is possible to detect red and green fluorescence simultaneously.

Images produced by the current system, in which the bacteria can be observed amongst lung tissue.