New, optically stable fluorphores that allow many different labels to be used to study cellular and physiological processes are simultaneously being developed. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between two fluorophores is being used to measure intramolecular distances. An exciting new development is the use of naturally fluorescent proteins and inorganic nanoparticles as indicators of the physiological state of a cell or construct.
Magnetic Resonance Microscopy (MRM)
Originally developed for macroscopic structures, MRM is now being applied to the study of live animal/human imaging and tissue engineering to provide high resolution (~10 microns). In particular, this research utilizes and develops optical (bright field, phase-contrast, confocal, and fluorescence microscopy) and magnetic resonance (NMR spectroscopy, in vitro and in vivo MRI and MR microscopy) techniques. The objective is to utilize these methodologies to interrogate biological specimens and engineered constructs, both during their development and following implantation. The principal focus is on quantifying and modeling the physiological changes that these samples undergo during growth or perturbation in order to design more robust and efficient cell and tissue engineered devices.