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Peering inside the body, with a new spinliterally

COPENHAGEN, Denmark --This story is unabashedly all spin. What's the angle? Why, magic. Its subject--a mouse in a form-fitted Plexiglas tube--performs the honors, spinning like an old phonograph record, at a leisurely one to three revolutions a second, and tilted just so inside a magnetic field being pelted with radio waves. The tiny rodent-adventurer and her cohorts are put under and emerge from the experience no worse for the wear.

This technique, in turn, called slow-magic-angle spinning magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or "slow MAS" for short, has provided researchers a new glimpse inside living tissue and cells that other biomedical imaging methods cannot render. The difference between conventional nuclear magnetic resonance, or NMR, and slow MAS is akin to a near-sighted person looking at a mountain range without his glasses one moment and with glasses the next. Once-indistinguishable peaks and valleys appear, the peaks in this case representing previously unseen biochemical compounds as they appear in living tissues.

"It's a noninvasive way to look at function of living organs and the components at work in them such as fat, glucose and other metabolites," said Robert Wind, a physicist and laboratory fellow at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and slow-spin technique inventor. "We think this new technique can be used to diagnose diseases and assess the body's response to drugs and even to observe the working physiology of living cells."

Today, at an international nuclear NMR conference (http://www.models.kvl.dk/NMRinFood/), Wind described the technique and experiments that show slow MAS's potential for studying metabolism in muscle and organs. His spinning subject in this case was raw (and very dead) rabbit flesh. He also has taken disembodied mouse livers and brains for slow spins around the magnet, revealing chemical spectra in tissue up to 10 times th
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Contact: Bill Cannon
cannon@pnl.gov
509-375-3732
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
14-Sep-2004


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