Scientists are currently experimenting with a radar-like weather system to observe how a storm of pathogens brews and evolves inside living tissue.
The strategy is entirely new, the authors of the study say, and is based on a method comparable to Doppler radars, capable of detecting the motion of precipitation and predicting future weather patterns.
Doppler ultrasounds, which take sound waves to form blood flow images, are currently used in the medical domain. The new technique may also help scientists peek inside individual cells to observe how they respond to pathogens like E. coli and salmonella.
One day, the results may help scientists determine if living tissue includes microbes or not and successfully treat the infection.
Last year, the team used comparable biodynamic imaging to identify cancerous cells and determine how effective chemotherapy is in warding off against them.
David Nolte, a specialist in biomedical imaging at Purdue University, said:
“First, we did biodynamic imaging applied to cancer, and now we’re applying it to other kinds of cells […] This research is unique. No one else is doing anything like it. That’s why it’s so intriguing.”
Scattering light throughout tissues results in a series of Doppler frequency shifts, which help scientists determine what is happening inside a living tissue’s cells.
The Doppler “fingerprint” rapidly reacts to subtle modifications in intracellular processes, including bacterial invasion.
When bacteria infect a host, it can change the tissue’s cells’ dynamics, doing some work like “sentinels,” providing feedback regarding the pathogen’s effects and how it responds to typical antibiotic treatments.