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CACTUS - Contrast Agent for CT and Ultrasound: manufacturing and characterization

Hybrid imaging is defined as a powerfull combination of two or more imaging techniques. By doing so, the most relevant properties from each modality can be merged together. For instance, the high resolution of CT can be combined with the high temporal resolution of US.

To increase further the sensitivity and specificity of hybrid imaging, an injectable microdevice supporting multimodality imaging approaches would be of great value.

In the CACTUS project, we develop a micro/nano-construct that can support multimodal imaging. The two modalities that our device is intended for are CT and US, but other imaging techniques such as photoacoustic or optical imaging could be also supported.

Initial phase of the project adressed the possibility to introduce Iodine-consisting particles in the polymer shell of gasholdning microbubbles. 

The second phase of the project assessed the posibility to combine gas filled MBs, currently used as an ultrasound contrast agent, with gold nanoparticles that are used as a preclinical contrast agent for computer tomography (CT). Size destributioin, enchansement in sonographic and CT image were determined. read more...

The slides from the First Year seminar by PhD student Hongjian Chen is available: first-year-seminar-09-2017.pdf


MUMI2D - Microdevice for ultrasound mediated imaging and drug delivery

A continuous development of new therapeutic agents has made novel drugs available for a variety of diseases. However, a wide spectrum of active molecules alone does not guarantee optimal therapic effect as other relevant factors, such as bioavailability and release mechanism, come into play. The “drug” has rather become a “complex” whose therapeutic efficacy is obtained with the collaborative action of a compound and a delivery system.

The current project introduces a new class of microdevices providing integrated diagnostic and therapeutic applications, i.e., theranostics using microbubble-based ultrasound contrast agent loaded with therapeutic compound. A gas core makes microbubbles to an efficient ultrasound contrast agent. Application of therapeutic gas opens new possibilities for local, specific drug delivery triggered by ultrasound.


The objective of the current project is to further improve existing and develop new contrast pulse  sequences for diagnostic and therapy using the preclinical ultrasound imaging platform Verasonics.

In particular the work will be carried out on:

  1. Development and design new contrast pulse sequences using single crystal set-up and extend this knowledge towards programmable ultrasound system Verasonics.
  2. Matematical modelling of wave propagating
  3. Experimental work on acoustic droplet evaporation using the developed sequences.
  4. Fabrication of the tissue mimicking phantom
  5. Design of the new experimental sep-up for demonstration of complex acoustic phenomenon.


CATAMARAN - Contrast Agents for Theranostics of Atherosclerosis using Microbubbles and Recent Advanced Nanotechnology

Atherosclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory, fibroproliferative disease. It can strike suddenly in the form of an acute myocardial infarction or stroke with high initial mortality up to 40 % before reaching the hospital. Atherosclerosis remains the main cause of death both in western and developing countries. The damage could be largely averted, if timely diagnosis and local treatment was available.

Ultrasound is a common imaging approach for fast diagnosis and monitoring of atherosclerosis, with efficiency greatly improved by ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs), presently used for passive enhancement of blood echoes in flow, perfusion and delineation studies.

In the current project the novel application areas such as targeted molecular imaging, hybrid multimodal imaging, local and controlled drug delivery will be developed.

In particular the work will be carried out on:

  1. Chemical preparation, size and morphology characterization
  2. Acoustic and mechanical characterization
  3. Development of specific contrast pulse sequence for efficient imaging and controlled drug delivery.
  4. Translational research from the tissue mimicking phantom to preclinical research even further towards early stage clinical study

Articles related to CATAMARAN project can be found here


Polymer-shelled ultrasound contrast agents with controlled size and polydispersity

Ultrasound imaging techniques can be greatly improved by the use of ultrasound contrast agents. Gas bubbles encapsulated into biocompatible polymer shell with controlled size distribution, that offers improved acoustic response, is of particular interest of this work. read more...



3MiCRON (2010-2013)

The 3MICRON project investigated the potential of in vitro and in vivo multimodal medical imaging with contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) and various combinations of MRI, PET and SPECT, using polymer microballoons (MBs) as imaging contrast enhancement agent. The micro-balloons were the basic ultrasound contrast enhancement agent, and they were modified by incorporating superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (SPIONs) for MRI or 99mTc for SPECT imaging, and by attaching ligands for targeting the microballoons at inflamed tissues. 

The 3MiCRON project resulted in 14 peer reviewed publications, 3 patent applications and around 70 presentations and posters at conferences and workshops, as well as 6 PhD theses. 3MiCRON also organised several specialised high level training workshops.

3MiCRON booklet