Navigation Links
Carnegie Mellon scientists develop tool that uses MRI to visualize gene expression in living animals

In a first, Carnegie Mellon University scientists have "programmed" cells to make their own contrast agents, enabling unprecedented high-resolution, deep-tissue imaging of gene expression. The results, appearing in the April issue of Nature Medicine, hold considerable promise for conducting preclinical studies in the emerging field of molecular therapeutics and for monitoring the delivery of therapeutic genes in patients.

"For 20 years it has been the chemist's job to develop agents that can be used to enhance MRI contrast," said Eric Ahrens, assistant professor of biological sciences in the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon. "Now, with our approach, we have put this job into the hands of the molecular biologist. Using off-the-shelf molecular biology tools we can now enable living cells to change their MRI contrast via genetic instructions."

"The new imaging method is a platform technology that can be adapted for many tissue types and for a range of preclinical uses in conjunction with emerging molecular therapeutic strategies," Ahrens said.

Ahrens' new approach uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor gene expression in real-time. Because MRI images deep tissues non-invasively and at high resolution, investigators don't need to sacrifice animals and perform laborious and costly analysis.

To trigger living cells into producing their own contrast agent, Ahrens gave them a gene that produces a form of ferritin, a protein that normally stores iron in a non-toxic form. This metalloprotein acts like a nano-magnet and a potent MRI "reporter."

A typical MRI scan detects and analyzes signals given off by hydrogen protons in water molecules after they are exposed to a magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses. These signals are then converted into an image. Ahrens' new MRI reporter alters the magnetic field in its proximity, causing nearby protons to give off a distinctly different signal. The resulting image reveals d ark areas that indicate the presence of the MRI reporter.

"Our technology is adaptable to monitor gene expression in many tissue types. You could link this MRI reporter gene to any other gene of interest, including therapeutic genes for diseases like cancer and arthritis, to detect where and when they are being expressed," Ahrens said.

Existing methods used to image gene expression have limitations, according to Ahrens. Some methods cannot be used in living subjects, fail to image cells deep inside the body or don't provide high-resolution images. Other approaches using MRI are not practical for a wide range of applications.

Ahrens and his colleagues constructed a gene carrier, or vector, that contained a gene for the MRI reporter. They used a widely studied vector called a replication-defective adenovirus that readily enters cells but doesn't reproduce itself. Ahrens injected the vector carrying the MRI reporter gene into brains of living mice and imaged the MRI reporter expression periodically for over a month in the same cohort of animals. The research showed no overt toxicity in the mouse brain from the MRI reporter.


Source:Carnegie Mellon University

Related biology news :

1. Robot-based system developed at Carnegie Mellon detects life in Chiles Atacama desert
2. Green catalyst destroys pesticides and munitions toxins, finds Carnegie Mellon University
3. Carnegie Mellon University research reveals how cells process large genes
4. Carnegie Mellon cyLab researchers work to develop new red tide monitoring
5. Team led by Carnegie Mellon University scientist finds first evidence of a living memory trace
6. Carnegie Mellon scientists create PNA molecule with potential to build nanodevices
7. Carnegie Mellon U. transforms DNA microarrays with standard Internet communications tool
8. Carnegie Mellon develops non-invasive technique to detect transplant rejection at cellular level
9. Carnegie Mellon scientists show brain uses optimal code for sound
10. DNA conclusive yet still controversial, Carnegie Mellon professor says
11. Teens unaware of sexually transmitted diseases until they catch one, Carnegie Mellon study finds
Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... , October 29, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce ... announces that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover ... the Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this ... ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 2015 Munich, Germany ... technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking ... , so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated ... mobile eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, ... , an innovator in modern authentication and a founding ... the launch of its latest version of the Nok ... organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and ... Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... A long-standing partnership between ... (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. , ... leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association ... 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award ... work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical manufacturing: ... from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its ... as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV ... embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: