Harvard Medical School
The mechanical properties of biological tissues and biomaterials are closely related to their functional abilities, and thus play significant roles in many areas of medicine. For example, hardened coronary arteries by calcification can cause heart problems; changes in the elasticity of crystalline lens and cornea are central in the development of cataracts, presbyopia and corneal ectasia; biomechanical compatibility is crucial in tissue engineering procedures; and, the stiffness of extra-cellular matrix influences drug delivery and cell motility. However, measuring such biomechanical properties remains a significant challenge due to a dearth of non-invasive technologies. To address this need, we are developing a novel imaging technology, Brillouin confocal microscopy, to probe the biomechanical properties of tissue in vivo without contact, quantitatively, and with high spatial resolution. The first areas of biomedical applications we are exploring are in ophthalmology where Brillouin microscopy may enable measuring changes in corneal and lens elasticity by aging, by the progression of disease, or in response to treatment and drugs; and in tissue engineering for the optimization of procedures by mapping and monitoring in situ and in real time the micromechanical properties of host and implanted tissue.
Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401