A Northwestern University study shows that coupling a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent to a nanodiamond results in dramatically enhanced signal intensity and thus vivid image contrast.
"The results are a leap and not a small one -- it is a game-changing event for sensitivity," said Thomas J. Meade, the Eileen Foell Professor in Cancer Research in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Feinberg School of Medicine. "This is an imaging agent on steroids. The complex is far more sensitive than anything else I've seen."
Meade led the study along with Dean Ho, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Ho already has demonstrated that the nanodiamonds have excellent biocompatibility and can be used for efficient drug delivery. This new work paves the way for the clinical use of nanodiamonds to both deliver therapeutics and remotely track the activity and location of the drugs.
The study, published online by the journal Nano Letters, also is the first published report of nanodiamonds being imaged by MRI technology, to the best of the researchers' knowledge. The ability to image nanodiamonds in vivo would be useful in biological studies where long-term cellular fate mapping is critical, such as tracking beta islet cells or tracking stem cells.
MRI is a noninvasive medical imaging technique that uses an intravenous contrast agent to produce detailed images of internal structures in the body. MRI is capable of deep tissue penetration, achieves an efficient level of soft tissue contrast with high spatial and time-related resolution, and does not require ionizing radiation.
Contrast agents are used in MRI because they alter the relaxivity (contrast efficacy indicator) and improve image resolution. Gadolinium (Gd) is the material most commonly used as an MRI contrast agent, but its contrast effic
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