Researchers at the University of Missouri have created a low-cost, portable device that can apply non-invasive bioluminescent imaging technology to many uses in animals, humans
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Eric Stann

A biochemical reaction between an enzyme called luciferase and oxygen causes fireflies to glow and is considered one of the most well-known examples of bioluminescence in nature. Now, an international team of researchers led by Elena Goun at the University of Missouri is working to harness the power of bioluminescence in a low-cost, noninvasive portable medical imaging device that could one day be applied to many uses in biomedical research, translational medicine and clinical diagnoses.

Potential uses include developing better treatments for cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases, along with monitoring various metabolic functions, such as gut health, in both animals and humans, said Goun, an associate professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Science and corresponding author on the study published in Nature Communications.

“This is the first example of a low-cost, portable bioluminescence imaging tool that can be used in large non-transgenic animals such as dogs,” Goun said. “The mobility and cost-effectiveness of this technology also makes it a powerful tool for use in many areas of preclinical research, clinical research and diagnostics.”