Listening to a piano, guitar or a clarinet it’s not instantly clear what they have in common. Yet all musical instruments produce vibrations, the nature of which gives them each a unique sound. Our body’s building blocks – carbohydrates, fats and proteins, for example – are no different, giving off tiny vibrations that are as individual as a trumpet fanfare. Identifying them is just a case of knowing how to listen. Scientists have done just this, developing a scanner that can recognise these minute vibrational calling cards. These cancer cells’ components are coloured in relation to their 'sound' – right down to the tiny fat droplets (dots coloured pink) floating inside. This improves on common imaging techniques, which rely on labelling targets with chemicals, which can be toxic and also disrupt natural processes. The chance to study the body without these invasive techniques will be music to researchers' ears.
Written by Jan Piotrowski
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.