Visionary bone damage study

A novel way to pinpoint and illuminate bone damage promises to make X-rays more efficient at diagnosing bone and other injuries, Flinders University researchers say.

The new technique, looking at potential biomedical applications of an ancient inorganic salt-based aggregation induced emission (AIE) radio-luminescence material, could open new frontiers in medicine including X-ray dosimetry, bioimaging and advanced applications such as optogenetics, says Professor Youhong Tang, from Flinders University’s College of Science and Engineering.

The research article, published by Professor Tang, postdoctoral researcher Dr Javad Tavokoli, colleagues in Hong Kong and Australian technology company Micro-X and, examined the potential of the AIEgen luminogens (AIEgens) in deep tissue imaging. The study used X-ray testing provided by Micro-X.

“We were able to use Micro-X advanced X-ray machines at the Tonsley Innovation District to show the benefits of this AIEgen system which can be excited by X-ray (as the radioluminescence emitter) and UV light (as the photoluminescence emitter) compared to current AIEgens which mostly only act as the photoluminescence emitter,” he says.

Photo: Pixabay

“The study highlighted the disadvantages of autofluorescence, poor signal-to-noise radio, and poor tissue penetration depth of traditional photoluminescence emitters which could be elegantly solved by these radioluminescence luminogens,” says Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Dr Tang.

“Not only do they pinpoint bone and soft tissue damage for better diagnosis and treatment but we suggest further studies could see these AIE-based materials with multifunctionalities used for improved drug delivery, biosensors, bioimaging, and tissue engineering.”

Lead author on the journal article in Aggregate, Dr Tavokoli, now based at the Centre for Health Technologies at University of Technology Sydney, says the next generation of fluorescent materials could also capitalise on additional light-emitting properties making them attractive for different applications.

The latest work not only explores a series of inorganic AIE systems but also “fundamentally helps to understand both the unconventional organic and inorganic clusteroluminescence phenomena, Professor Tang concludes.

The paper, Revisiting an ancient inorganic aggregation‐induced emission system: An enlightenment to clusteroluminescence (2021) by Zheng Zhao, Zaiyu Wang, Javad Tavakoli,  Guogang Shan, Jianyu Zhang, Chen Peng, Yu Xiong, Xuepeng Zhang, Tsz Shing Cheung,  Youhong Tang, Bolong Huang and Zhaoxun Yu published in Aggregate DOI: 10.1002/agt2.36

Funding for the project included grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21788102 and 52003228); Science and Technology Plan of Shenzhen (JCYJ20180306174910791); Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2019B121205002); Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (N_HKUT609/19, 16305518, A‐HKUST605/16, and C6009–17G); and Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC–CNERC14SC01 and ITCPD/17–9).

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