Living with near-infrared imaging

The first stable, non-toxic labels for near-infrared imaging that are efficient enough for studies of living systems have been developed by Inserm researcher Stéphane Petoud at the Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire of CNRS in Orleans (CBM) and Nathaniel Rosi at the University of Pittsburgh (USA) and their colleagues. Fluorescence imaging is an emerging technique in the field of biomedical applications, allowing a specific target (cell constituents, a pathogenic agent, an active ingredient, etc.) to be observed and monitored in real time and in a non-invasive manner, not only in a single cell but also in a whole body. The researchers have used porous metal organic framework (MOF) materials to host weakly fluorescing lanthanide complexes in order to boost their NIR signal. This new tool for exploring the living world in real time is now available to biologists, and should be available to clinicians in the future.