MR contrast agents in the future

May 6, 2010

Researchers at Ohio State University are asking if maybe it’s time to add some color to MR. The idea is to look for ways to make the presence of disease obvious. It’s all about making disease stand out. They took inspiration from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who came up with a new hospital garb. A blush, they point out, stands out when surrounded by regular-colored skin. Pale skin, yellow skin, and blue skin (indicative of a lack of blood oxygen, for example, always good for a doc to notice) are more apparent if the patient’s healthy color is draped across it, according to them.
Therefore, at Ohio State University, they are at experimenting with nanoparticles that are both magnetic and fluorescent . These measure 20 nanometers across (for comparison’s sake, a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick) promise to enhance the appearance of tumors on MR scans, then light them up in green, for example, when the tumors themselves are exposed to black light during surgery.
This is just an idea with a long way to go before it becomes reality, but the seeds are there.

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