MSE Research Project Database

Contrast agents for micro-computed tomography (microCT) imaging of soft biological tissues and scaffold materials

Project Leader: Kathryn Stok
Staff: Zihui Li
Primary Contact: Kathryn Stok (
Keywords: biomaterials; biomedical engineering; contrast agent; medical image analysis; micro-computed tomography
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering,Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences

The Integrative Cartilage Research Group researches links between microstructure, mechanics and biological signalling networks.

Micro-CT is a valuable imaging technology for visualising structure, however objects of interest need to absorb x-rays in order to be seen. For many soft biological materials, including tissue-engineered scaffold materials, this is not the case. In this project, the goal is to investigate and develop contrast agents for visualising soft biological tissues and scaffold materials; for example, cartilage, ligament and tendon.

Contrast agent requirements include:

  • visualisation and delineation of soft tissues and scaffold materials with microCT
  • biocompatible (cells and tissues) 
  • easily introduced (injection, immersion) and rinsed out
  • highly-reproducible synthesis

The project involves monitoring of biosignals and biomarkers in biological constructs. The work requires a creative approach to developing new protocols for evaluating biological and mechanical signalling networks in tissues.