Dr Vipul Gujrati and the team at TUM have published an article on optoacoustic imaging using bioengineered bacterial vesicles as a contrast enhancement medium.

The team used outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), which are vesicles, or structures, that are released from the bacteria. They are released from the outer membranes of bacteria and can transport various cargo such as proteins, enzymes, and toxins, and signaling molecules, and they enable bacteria to communicate with the environment around them.

In their paper, entitled “Bioengineered bacterial vesicles as biological nano-heaters for optoacoustic imaging“, Vipul’s team customised OMVs to carry a package that could help enhance optoacoustic imaging – specifically they packaged naturally occurring melanin (biopolymer-melanin OMVMel) in OMVs.

The team uses Multi-spectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT), which is a non-invasive imaging technique that illuminates tissue by illuminating the area with laser pulses. Melanin absorbs light, thus helping to improve MSOT images, but also has photothermal effects, helping to build heat from the absorbed laser energy.

In this paper, the OMVMel  successfully generated strong optoacoustic signals when monitoring. In addition, the nano-heating effect highlighted the potential therapeutic benefits, with local heating delaying tumour growth in vivo.

Schematic representation of OMV generation.

Schematic representation of OMVMel generation. A schematic representation of OMVMel purified after vesiculation from the parental bacteria. OMV, outer membrane vesicle. [“Schematic representation of OMVMel generation.” by Gujrati V, et al.  is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0 International.]

You can read the full open access paper on nature.com.

The STARSTEM team comprises academics and researchers that are actively involved in their research discipline and other research projects. The Partner Publications page shares some of the publications that they have released in their area over the course of the project.