Non-invasive imaging of metabolites by MRI

Researcher:

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Chemistry and Materials | Medical Devices

The Technology

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the most informative of all medical imaging techniques, offering both high resolution and multiple contrast mechanisms. However, MRI is restricted to morphological analysis and can say almost nothing about the chemistry of the inspected tissue, limiting the available information.

In metabolic MRI, a metabolite, and its downstream products, are tracked in a spatially resolved manner. This is made possible by greatly enhancing the MRI signal using a process known as hyperpolarization. Metabolic MRI has a proven capacity of resolving malignant/benign tissue and assessing malignancy aggressiveness using Hyperpolarized pyruvic acid and glucose. Other studies demonstrated monitoring of breast cancer tissue response to treatment shortly (hours) following protocol commence, resolving otherwise invisible sites of inflammation. Metabolic MRI is therefore emerging as a prominent diagnostic technology, in the oncological context, and in many more yet unexplored potential applications.

Hyperpolarization (HP) of metabolites requires co-dissolution with stable free radicals in solution, which in turn must be eliminated prior to administration due to strict regulatory restrictions. As hyperpolarized state half-life rarely exceeds ~1 min, radical removal must be completed within this tight timeframe, bearing heavily on system size, complexity, price and performance. Further – radical cost is considerable and the need for co-dissolution requires complex sterile tubing system and precludes the use of multiple important materials with low solubility.

Advantages

  • Non-toxic
  • Increased sensitivity for surface composition and reactions

Applications and Opportunities

  • Research in the field of molecular structure
  • Medical imaging
  • Diagnostic of catalytic processes

 

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Ilia Baskin
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