Added Wemmer, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley chemistry professor, "Other molecular MRI contrast agents provide small changes in big MRI signals, making the changes difficult to detect when the amount of contrast agent binding is small. Our HYPER-CEST contrast agent provides a big change in the xenon MRI signal, which means it is much easier to detect even though the xenon MRI signals are rather small."
In addition to its intrinsically higher contrast, another advantage with the HYPER-CEST technique is that its effects can be "multiplexed," meaning that the polarized xenon biosensors can be targeted to detect different proteins at the same time in a single sample. This capability, which is not shared by most conventional molecular MRI contrast agents, opens up a number of possibilities for future diagnostics.
Explained co-author Schrder, a member of the Pines' research group who is affiliated with Berkeley Lab's terials Sciences Division, "For example, as a diagnostic tool for the detection of cancer, with HYPER-CEST, we could perform multiple virtual biopsies on a single tissue sample, using different biosensors to screen for each potential form of cancer."
As a diagnostic tool for cancer, HYPER-CEST would be extremely sensitive, Schrder says, able to detect the presence of cancer-related proteins at micromolar (parts per million) concentrations. The sooner that the presence of cancerous cells is detected, the better the chances are for successful treatment. In addition to high sensitivity and target specificity, HYPER-CEST MRI is also unique from other molecular imaging techniques in that it provides both spatial and biochemical information. This points to a wide r
Contact: Lynn Yarris
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory