Nanojuice – New Technique For Examining Small Intestine

By on July 7, 2014

A new technique is getting developed by researchers of University of Buffalo for better examination of small intestine with help of ‘Nanojuice’.

This will help in diagnosing health conditions like Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and other gastrointestinal related diseases.

Actually, it is not an easy task to examine small intestine, which is located deep in the human gut.

Presently, X-rays, MRI scans, and ultrasound images are used for examining small intestine, but they each one of them have their own limitations in examining.

Nanojuice is actually a liquid, which contains nano-particles. The patients have to drink this liquid.

Nanojuice - Examining Small IntestineOnce the liquid reaches the small intestine, doctors will strike the nano-particles in the juice with a harmless laser light. This will help in proving an unparalleled, non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.

Jonathan Lovell, PhD is the corresponding author of this study is also an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in University of Buffalo.

Jonathan Lovell said that with the help of conventional methods, only organ and blockages can be observed, but this with this new technique the real time working of small intestine can be observed.

As this new technique helps in providing better observation and understanding, it will help the doctors in providing effective care for the patients.

Small intestine in our bodies is located between stomach and large intestine, and it is one around 1 inch thick and 23 feet long. The main function of small intestine in digestion, and absorption of food we eat. This is organ which gets affected by irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celian disease, and other gastrointestinal related diseases.

Presently, the technique involved in examining small intestine is that the patients have to drink thick, chalky liquid called barium. Then, the doctors assess the organ with magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasounds.

But, these techniques have their own limitations like magnetic resonance imaging has limitation with respect to safety, accessibility and ultrasounds has limitation with respect to lack of adequate contrast.

Moreover, these techniques don’t even provide real-time imaging of movement such as peristalsis, which is the contraction of muscles that propels food through the small intestine.


Dysfunction of these movements is generally related to irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celian disease, and other gastrointestinal related diseases. And, it is even related to side effects of diabetes, thyroid disorders, and Parkinson’s disease.

Earlier Lovell and a researcher’s team worked on family of dyes called family of dyes called naphthalcyanines. Naphthalcyanines are small molecules which are capable of absorbing large portions of light in the near-infrared spectrum, which is the ideal range for biological contrast agents.

But, they formed nanoparticles called “nanonaps” as naphthalcyanines are not suitable for humans. These nano-particles contain colorful dye molecules. They are even able to disperse in liquid and safely move through the intestine.

Researchers, when they performed laboratory experiments on mice were able to get real time working and more nuanced view of the small intestine. Nanojuice was admistered orally to the mice, and photoacoustic tomography (PAT) was assessing small intestine.

Researchers are planning for human trails, and even moving to other gastrointestinal tract areas.

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