For nearly a decade, we have been developing noninvasive imaging methods to assess multiscale biophysics and biomechanics of soft tissues. Our main goals in this area of research are to provide tools that measure functional mechanical quantities as imaging biomarkers of disease and repair, and to enable fundamental studies of small-scale motion in response to physical stimuli and cellular changes. We developed dualMRI (displacements under applied loading by magnetic resonance imaging), a versatile and noninvasive technique that measures internal material strains with high spatiotemporal resolution. dualMRI is able to measure the mechanics of connective and cardiac tissues, and short T2 biomaterials, including ligament and meniscus, that are traditionally difficult to image by MRI. We are able to determine the mechanics of diverse biomaterials, including cartilage, intervertebral disc, and cell-laden hydrogels and collagen-rich tissue constructs. We found significant correlations between dualMRI and histological-based assessments osteoarthritis severity, indicating a promising clinical and diagnostic utility for the technique in vivo in the detection of the early disease state. We have imaged explanted and intact joint tissues. Most recently, we acquired internal strains in both tibiofemoral cartilage and cervical intervertebral discs of human volunteers in vivo for the first time, as represented in the selected publications below:

Chan D.D., Cai L., Butz K.D., Trippel S.B., Nauman E.A., Neu C.P. (2016). In vivo articular cartilage deformation: noninvasive quantification of intratissue strain during joint contact in the human knee. Scientific Reports 6:19220

Ashinsky B.G., Coletta C.E., Lukas V.A., Boyle J.M., Bouhrara M., Reiter D.A., Neu C.P., Goldberg I.L., Spencer R.G. (2015). Machine learning classification of OARSI-scored human articular cartilage using magnetic resonance imaging. Osteoarthritis & Cartilage 23(10):1704-12.

Neu C.P. (2014). Functional Imaging in OA: Role of Imaging in the Evaluation of Tissue Biomechanics. Osteoarthritis & Cartilage 22(10):1349-1359.

Griebel A., Trippel S.B., Neu C.P. (2013). Noninvasive dualMRI-based strains vary by depth and region in human osteoarthritic articular cartilage. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 21(2):394-400.