The Accidental Breakthrough
Angela and Jeremy tried all the existing techniques for lymph node imagin, including ICG fluorescence, radioactive tracer, ultrasound, etc. They then soon realized that the lymphatic system is particularly hard to image because it is translucent, just like the surrounding fat, and it flows very slowly.
On Oct. 13th 2019, Jeremy was working on a different project and forgot to turn off the machine. Jeremy’s collaborator, Dr. Murillo Silva, walked with a mouse carcass for lymph node dissection. While Murillo is having a hard time finding the mouse inguinal lymph node, Jeremy noticed that the machine that he forgot to turn off showed significant contrast between lymph node and fat. It is at that moment, the foundational technology is established. It is built on a strong signal that was accidentally discovered – similar to how X-ray was discovered to be useful for medicine because Röntgen’s hands happened to be there.
Angela and Jeremy spent three years at MIT to optimize the technology, published and patented the technology.