They acknowledged that gadolinium chelates, which revolutionized MRI testing when introduced in the late 1980s, have been controversial lately since it was discovered that patients with kidney impairment were unable to eliminate all of the toxins. “They’ve since worked out that if you have good kidney function, the benefits outweigh the potential risks,” Singer said.
The team is also adapting its models beyond interactions with water. “In biological systems, cells have other constituents like osmolytes and denaturants like urea, so we’re modeling gadolinium with these different environments to build toward a variety of applications,” Asthagiri said.
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Co-authors of the paper are Rice graduate students Arjun Valiya Parambathu, Thiago Pinheiro dos Santos and Yunke Liu; senior research scientist Lawrence Alemany; George Hirasaki, the A.J. Hartsook Professor Emeritus and a research professor; and Walter Chapman, the William W. Akers Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Vinegar Technologies LLC, Chevron Energy Technology, the Rice University Consortium on Processes in Porous Media, the Department of Energy Office of Science and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin supported the research.
An illustration based on simulations by Rice University engineers shows a gadolinium ion (blue) in water (red and white), with inner-sphere water -- the water most affected by the gadolinium -- highlighted. The researchers’ models of gadolinium in water show there’s room for improvement in compounds used as contrast agents in clinical magnetic resonance imaging. (Credit: Illustration by Arjun Valiya Parambathu)
An illustration based on simulations by Rice University engineers shows a gadolinium ion (dark blue) surrounded by a chelate known as DOTA in water. The chelate is required to minimize gadolinium retention in the body after a magnetic resonance imaging scan. The green atoms are carbon and light blue are nitrogen.
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