Courtesy of Dr Ahsan Akram, this image demonstrates molecular imaging of bacteria in human lungs using fluorescent probes and optical endomicroscopy, tiny fibre-optic tubes that obtain images from deep inside lung airways. This new imaging technology developed in the EPSRC-funded Proteus project has been shown to be safe and practical for rapidly detecting bacteria in patients with lung infections.

In a patient suspected to have the chronic lung infection bronchiectasis, baseline optical endomicroscopy imaging of the alveoli (tiny air sacs inside the lungs) is shown at left; imaging after administration of a fluorescent probe to label Gram-negative bacteria is shown at centre. Image analysis to detect labeled bacteria is shown at right, utilised by an algorithm to distinguish Gram-negative from Gram-positive bacterial infections.


The image is taken from a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine:

Akram AR, Chankeshwara SV, Scholefield E, Aslam T, McDonald N, Megia-Fernandez A, Marshall A, Mills B, Avlonitis N, Craven TH, Smyth AM, Collie DS, Gray C, Hirani N, Hill AT, Govan JR, Walsh T, Haslett C, Bradley M, Dhaliwal K. In situ identification of Gram-negative bacteria in human lungs using a topical fluorescent peptide targeting lipid A. Sci Transl Med 2018; 10(464):eaal0033.