Development of new methods for optical non-linear microscopy to be applied to biophysics and medical physics in-vivo. In this field the Biophotonics group is developing two-photon excitation fluorescence imaging microscopy and second harmonic generation microscopy. One of the main application aims to the study of the motion of lymphocytes in lymph nodes in order to model the immune response of mice. This work is being carried out in collaboration with the Biotechnology group of our University.
The interaction between T cells and dendritic cells largely determines the immuno response induced by pathgens and some of the auto-immuno diseases. In paralle with the experimental study performed in the lab by means of the non linear excitation fluorescence microscopy in vivo, we are developing a comprehensive algorithm to simulate the complex dynamics of the lymphocyte interaction in the lymphoid organs. The algorithm is based on a mixed Monte Carlo Stocahstic Dynamics approach.
The detection of tiny amounts of tumors markers is essential for an early detection of the tumor that can be coupled to the possibility to diagnose micrometastases by means of medical imaging. In this project we are developing hybrid systems made of gold nanoparticles (5-10 nm) conjugated with specific antibodies for proteins that are known to be expressed in excess by cancer cells of various types (melanoma, prostate cancer, etc.) and orgnaic fluorophores. We have shown that the measurement of the change of the excitated state lifetime of these fluorophores induced by the protein binding offers a reliable parameter for the measurement of the concentration of the protein derived or expressed by cancer cells. The project aims to develop systems that can be used in cells for diagnosis and also therapy, by exploiting the photothermal effect due to the plasmonic absorption of the gold nanoparticles.