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Molecular Imaging Homepage

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Researchers develop method that generates multi-color MR images

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found out how to make MR images multicolor.

They did that by developing a new method that uses two contrast agents at once. This allows physicians to map multiple characteristics of a patient's internal organs from a single MR exam.

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"The multicolored term is used here to [explain] that this new MRI technique is analogous to simultaneous detection of two optical imaging agents that use different fluorophores (e.g., red and green)," Chris Flask, associate professor at the university, told HCB News.

He believes that this multi-agent detection capability has the potential to transform molecular imaging because it provides a translation pathway for studies in patients. It also provides a unique imaging platform to rigorously study molecular therapies that target biomarkers or other detectable molecules associated with certain diseases.

In addition to a research tool, this method could also be used to diagnose. One of the contrast agents could specifically target the diseased tissue and the other could be designed to show healthy tissue.

Flask and his team recently published a paper that discussed their new method in Scientific Reports. They used gadolinium and manganese, which can be detected and independently quantified during MR exams.

The team stated that their results provide "an adaptable, quantitative imaging framework to assess two MR contrast agents simultaneously for a wide variety of imaging applications."

They have already started to investigate potential applications for the new method. Those may include studies in cancers, genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Flask noted that both combinations of two FDA-approved agents, as well as new molecular MR contrast agents, will need to be evaluated for safety and benefits to patient populations.

"However, this new MR technology opens the door to considering those combinations of agents that will be first evaluated in basic science studies, and then eventually in patients," he added.

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