A cocktail of fluorescent dyes and nanoparticles could aid in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal ailments. Researchers at the University at Buffalo say their “nanojuice” enables detailed images of the small intestines in mice when used in concert with photoacoustic tomography. Photoacoustic tomography illuminates “nanojuice” in the intestine of a mouse. Images courtesy of Dr. Jonathan Lovell/University of Buffalo. “Conventional imaging methods show the organ and blockages, but this method allows you to see how the small intestine operates in real time,” said professor Dr. Jonathan Lovell. “Better imaging will improve our understanding of these diseases and allow doctors to more effectively care for people suffering from them.” The researchers worked with a family of near-infrared fluorescent dyes called naphthalcyanines. To make them suitable for ingestion, the researchers encased the dyes in nanoparticles that disperse in liquid and move safely through the digestive tract without being absorbed into the blood. Patients would drink the nanojuice like water. Photoacoustic tomography could have advantages over existing approaches to intestinal imaging. X-rays are not safe for repeated use, MRIs are expensive and ultrasound does not provide adequate contrast, the Buffalo researchers said, and none of them provide real-time imaging. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The work was published in Nature Nanotechnology (doi:10.1038/nnano.2014.130). For more information, visit www.buffalo.edu.