IMAGE: Caltech’s Mikhail Shapiro and his colleagues have developed “erasable ” MRI contrast agents that can blink off on command with ultrasound technology. As illustrated here, the contrast agents — which consist… view more
Credit: Barth van Rossum for Caltech
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is through the use of contrast agents–magnetic dyes injected into the blood or given orally to patients that then travel to organs and tissues, making them easier to see. Recently, researchers have begun to develop next-generation contrast agents, such as magnetic nanoparticles, that can be directed specifically to sites of interest, such as tumors.
But there remains a problem with many of these agents: they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from our bodies’ tissues, which give off their own MRI signals. For example, a researcher reading an MRI scan may not know with certainty if a dark patch near a tumor represents a contrast agent bound to the tumor, or is an unrelated signal from surrounding tissue.
Caltech’s Mikhail Shapiro, assistant professor of chemical engineering, thinks he has a solution.
Article originally posted at