Skip to main content

Pre-Clinical Imaging Platform (PIP)

The Pre-Clinical Imaging Platform (PIP) was set up in 2008 as a service of research groups and pharmaceutical companies. The first imaging teams were incorporated through the joint efforts of the following three bodies:

  • Biomedical Research Networking Centre in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN)
  • Clinical Nanomedicine and Advanced Therapies Research Centre 
  • Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR)

The PIP is part of the Nanbiosis U20 experimental platform.

The primary objective of the platform is to provide several imaging tools for in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies of the various experimental models, obtaining molecular-, cellular- or tissue-level physiological, anatomical or combined information.

Located in the animal facility in the Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus’s Cellex Building, the platform is equipped with an optical imaging system (Xenogen IVIS Spectrum) and a computed microtomography (Perkin Elmer Quantum FX). These tools are specifically designed for research with laboratory animals.

The PIP’s staff are specialists in this service and have the necessary technical and legal proficiency, as well as extensive experience in the most advanced imaging techniques.


IVIS® Spectrum (Perkin Elmer)

The IVIS® Spectrum system has the capacity to carry out high sensitivity and versatility optical-imaging studies, in the fields of both bioluminescence and fluorescence.

  • The bioluminescence technique is ideal for displaying the expression of genes marked with the luciferase enzyme; it contributes information on gene expression localised in the various animal models.

  • The presence of various fluorescence filters enables the use of the equipment with a large number of fluorescent probes available in the market. This provides great versatility in techniques, as it enables countless biological or artificial structures to be marked and longitudinally or occasionally monitored. The filters currently available in the equipment are listed below:
GFP 445-490 515-575
DsRed 500-550 575-650
Cy5.5 615-665 695-770
ICG 710-760 810-875
GFP bckg 410-440 Igual que GFP
DsRed bckg 460-490 Igual que DsRed
Cy5.5 bckg 580-610 Igual que Cy5.5
ICG bckg 665-695 Igual que ICG

The equipment’s high sensitivity enables localisation of low-intensity light signals and quantification of cellular activity in real time. There is also the possibility of conducting not just in vivo but also ex vivo or in vitro studies, while providing the optical imaging with an extensive range of application, from the first stages of experimental development to the final steps of the pre-clinical stage.

The equipment’s technical parameters enable assessments of its high sensitivity. For example, it can be said that the optical resolution comes to 20 micrometers, and that it is possible for studies to be conducted with up to 5 animals at the same time, thereby adding the equipment’s high capacity utilisation.

This tool is optimal for conducting in vivo and in vitro studies of oncology, microbiology, immunology or radioactive-marker models (using the Cherenkov effect).

Finally, the possibility of carrying out combined IVIS® / computed microtomography studies allows us to obtain accurate three-dimensional anatomical information on the origin and localisation of the observed light signals.

Quantum® Fx (Perkin Elmer)

Aimed at offering research groups the largest number of services possible, the PIP includes a computed microtomography system especially designed for laboratory animals (mice and rats) that provides anatomical and functional information on them. The equipment enables high-resolution images (10m maximum) to be obtained in very short capture times (standard study of 17 seconds), which increases the equipment’s performance.

The information obtained enables, for example, assessments of the effectiveness of the various therapies on the illnesses studied or analyses of the influence of the various genes on the development of a pathology. Other uses include assessments of biomaterials and their integration into receptor tissues.

In-depth bone-structure studies can be analysed through the use of a calibrated simulator, specially designed for this purpose. The device allows assessments to be made of the composition in hydroxyapatite of the bone tissues analysed.

Using several contrast media enables increases in the range of uses of the computed microtomography equipment and its inclusion in functional techniques, providing opportunities for assessing the perfusion of a certain tissue after a heart attack process, the neovascularisation developed by a tumour or the biodistribution of a study drug, among other things.

The scanning-speed of the Quantum FX equipment enables drastic reductions in the dose of radiation received by animals during their exploration, which has repercussions on the possibility of conducting longitudinal studies with a sufficiently high scanning frequency.

Acquisition settings

Voxel dimensions (mm)
Scan time
0,148x0,148x0,148 17sec 13
0,148x0,148x0,148 2min 85
0,148x0,148x0,148 4.5min 203
0,295x0,295x0,295 34sec 26
0,118X0,118x0,118 17sec 13
0,118X0,118x0,118 2min 85
0,118X0,118x0,118 4.5min 203
0,236x0,236x0,236 36sec 26
0,059x0,059x0,059 26sec 18
0,059x0,059x0,059 3min 128
0,08x0,08x0,08 17sec 58
0,08x0,08x0,08 2min 200
0,08x0,08x0,08 4,5min 444
0,05x0,05x0,05 17sec 114
0,05x0,05x0,05 2min 746
0,05x0,05x0,05 4.5min 1653
0,04x0,04x0,04 17sec 114
0,04x0,04x0,04 2min 746
0,04x0,04x0,04 4.5min 1653
0,02x0,02x0,02 26sec 148
0,02x0,02x0,02 3min 1123
0,01x0,01x0,01 26sec 148
0,01x0,01x0,01 3min 1123

Vivid Q (General Electric)

Soft-tissue studies are completed at the PIP with a General Electric Vivid Q ultrasound. This clinical equipment is configured for its use on small laboratory animals. Ultrasound is a completely harmless technique that enables real-time assessments of the structures studied. It is specially designed for cardiac and abdominal studies. Its speed of use and high versatility make an ideal tool for carrying out screenings in in vivo research.

MicroPET (General Electric)