Navigation Links
Carnegie Mellon MRI technology that noninvasively locates, quantifies specific cells in the body

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 solves this problem by producing images that clearly show the labeled cells at their precise location in the body. Ahrens first labels the cells of interest with a perfluoropolyether (PFPE) nanoemulsion, which is a colloidal suspension of tiny fluorocarbon droplets. Then, he introduces the labeled cells into an animal subject and tracks the cells in vivo using 19F MRI.

While conventional MRI detects the nuclear magnetic resonance signal from protons contained in the mobile water in tissue, 19F MRI detects the signal from the nucleus of the fluorine atom. Fluorine is not normally present in the body at sufficient concentrations to detect, so when Ahrens labels cells with PFPE, he can detect this fluorine 'tracer' with MRI after the cells are transplanted into the body. The Ahrens' team has recently used the PFPE technology to label and track dendritic cells and T cells in a mouse model of type I diabetes, a disease in which immune cells infiltrate the pancreas, attacking and damaging the body's own cells.

"Right now we're using our technology to image key cell types involved in autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes, but our cellular MRI agents also can be adapted to label other cell types, including cells from bone marrow and stem cells. A key long-term application of our technology is to label and monitor cell-based therapeutics in humans," Ahrens said.

Recent advances in cell-based therapeutics research have focused on training immune cells to counteract diseases including cancer and diabetes and on directing stem cells to regenerate damaged tissues. Non-invasively visualizing these therapeutic cells in patients after transfer can be a vexing problem, according to Ahrens, and any approach that can speed up the testing of these treatments will be extremely useful.

"Ideally we would label therapeutic cells with our cellular MRI agents before they are implanted into a patient. In this way, we could use MRI to visualize the movement of the therapeutic cells in the patient to monitor whether they migrate to and remain in the desired tissues," explained Ahrens.

Contact: Jocelyn Duffy
Carnegie Mellon University

Related biology technology :

1. Spherix Shareholders Support Companys Focus on Naturlose, Biotechnology
2. Novel Technology Breaks Through Cancer Pain
3. Amyris Biotechnologies Co-Founder Neil Renninger Named to Technology Reviews Prestigious TR35 List of Top Young Innovators
4. Advanced Cell Technology Announces Proposed Financing
5. Advanced Cell Technologys Dr. Robert Lanza Makes List of 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life-Sciences Industry
6. Operon Biotechnologies and DNA2.0 Announce Co-Marketing and Technology Development Partnership
7. BioMarin Licenses Technology From Leading Cystic Fibrosis Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco
8. Microchip Biotechnologies, Inc. Secures Exclusive License to Use New University of Alberta Technology for Developing Microfluidic Devices
9. MedImmune Licenses Reverse Genetics Technology to Novartis for Use in Influenza Vaccine Development and Production
10. China Technology Announces New Chief Financial Officer
11. Medinet Licenses MaxCyte Cell Loading Technology for Cancer Immunotherapy in Japan
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic ... sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by ... tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has already ... therapeutics in multiple cancer types. Over ... DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle ... people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new ... , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the leading manufacturers ... Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing high quality ... list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as Whole Foods, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... TORONTO , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon ... the development and commercialization of a portfolio of ... cancers. Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an ... contribute significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited ... with VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt ...  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches ... increases both security and usability. ... about this new partnership. "This marketing ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):