Bioimaging is a relatively recent development in the
medical field that makes use of digital technology. It relates
to methods that visualise biological processes in real time.
This new imaging technique produces information about anatomical
structure that is linked to functional data, as described by
electric and magnetic fields, mechanical motion, and metabolism.
It is a non-invasive process that provides comprehensive views
of the human body in progressively greater depth and detail.
Bioimaging is thus a powerful tool for viewing the internal
workings of the body and its diseases.
Some examples of bioimaging
as applied to the medical field include X-ray and ultrasound
images, MRI, 3D and 4D body images using CT scans et al.
Bioimaging - a Brief History
The first multi-lens microscopes were built about 400 years ago and have been used for medical research since ages. However, it was only with the advent of digital photography that scientists could harness their full power using computational tools for image analysis.
With progress in digital technology, bioimaging is expected to be cheaper, faster and promises to be the mainstay of medical research.
There are four broad categories of bioimaging:
1. Molecular Bioimaging
2. Biomedical Imaging
3. Bioimaging in Drug discovery
4. Computational Bioimaging
Importance of Bioimaging
Bioimaging allows in vivo imaging of biological processes, including changes in receptor kinetics,
molecular and cellular signaling and interactions and the movement of molecules through membranes.
Being mostly non-invasive, bioimaging offers precise tracking of metabolites that can be used as
biomarkers for disease identification, progress and treatment response.
Although bioimaging promises to open an exciting chapter in medical research, there are still some
areas that need to be addressed. For example, there in no method in bioimaging today that quantitatively
tells a clinician by how much a tumor grew or shrank in response to a drug. Likewise, bioimaging cannot
distinguish between benign and aggressive tumors. It is hoped that advances in bioimaging will turn images
into reliable data that can be used by medical professionals for diagnosis and analysis, reducing the need
for biopsies and other invasive procedures.
Although nascent, bioimaging promises to provide an important tool for clinicians that will help
them in the monitoring of a body's response to a drug. Advances in bioimaging can provide better
diagnosis and treatment of various diseases in a safe, non invasive way.