Fluorescent sensors are typically used to label and image a variety of molecules to give a unique glimpse inside living cells. However, the method has been limited to cells grown in a lab dish or in tissues closer to the surface of the body because the signal from the sensors are lost when implanted too deeply in the body.
The team of MIT engineers’ photonic technique “dramatically improved” the fluorescent signal, according to a news release. The researchers showed that sensors could be implanted as deep as 5.5 cm in the tissue and still provide a strong signal. Improved signaling could help fluorescent sensors to track specific molecules inside the brain or other tissues deep within the body for medical diagnosis or monitoring drug effects.