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Carnegie Mellon MRI technology that non-invasively locates, quantifies specific cells in the body
Date:8/20/2008

PHILADELPHIAMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) isn't just for capturing detailed images of the body's anatomy. Thanks to novel imaging reagents and technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University scientist Eric Ahrens, MRI can be used to visualize with "exquisite" specificity cell populations of interest in the living body. The ability to non-invasively locate and track cells, such as immune cells, will greatly aid the study and treatment of cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases, as well as provide a tool for advancing clinical translation of the emerging field of cellular regenerative medicine, by tracking stem cells for example.

Ahrens will present his research on this new approach, called fluorocarbon labeling, Thursday, Aug. 21 at the 236th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.

"With our technology we can image specific cells in real-time with exquisite selectivity, which allows us to track their location and movement and to count the apparent number of cells present. We then use conventional MRI to obtain a high-resolution image that places the labeled cells in their anatomical context," said Ahrens, an associate professor of biological sciences at the Mellon College of Science.

The ability to track the movement and eventual location of specific immune cells is critical for understanding the cells' role in disease and therapeutic mechanisms, and for developing effective cell-based therapeutics. Other MRI methods for visualizing cells use metal-based contrast agents, which can make it difficult to clearly identify labeled cells in the body, according to Ahrens.

"The large background signal from mobile water and intrinsic tissue contrast differences can often make it challenging to unambiguously identify regions containing these metal-ion labeled cells throughout the body, which is the current state of the art," Ahrens said.

Ahrens's new approach fluorocarbon labeling
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Contact: Jocelyn Duffy
jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-9982
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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