A paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics (JBO), “Imaging hydroxyapatite in sub-retinal pigment epithelial deposits by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy with tetracycline staining,” demonstrates a potential new diagnostic option for catching a degenerative eye disease in its earliest stages.
Tiny deposits of lipids, proteins, and minerals, sometimes known as drusen, can collect under the retina. They may indicate a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), so enhanced and early detection is a current clinical need. The initial findings presented in the paper show a new way to achieve molecular contrast based upon sub-retinal mineral deposits. The approach uses a well-known property of the tetracycline-family of antibiotics—their propensity to stain teeth and bones—making visible the smallest of mineral deposits. Utilizing human cadaver retinas containing drusen, the researchers used fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) to measure the light emission from tetracycline staining within those ocular mineral deposits.
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