Building Blocks for Medical Imaging

Building Blocks for Medical Imaging

By Ayanna Flegler

Diagnostic imaging has become critical for identifying and monitoring health issues. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an example of a widely used imaging technology that has greatly improved the capabilities of research and medicine. Within biological research, fluorescent chemical compounds are used for various applications. Researchers led by Drs. Molly A. Sowers and Jeremiah Johnson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new class of nanoparticles, ORCAFluors, which represent new capabilities for diagnostic medical imaging. ORCAFluors were developed from precursor molecules of MRI agents or a fluorescent molecule, and when combined, form molecules that can be used for simultaneous MRI and fluorescent imaging.

ORCAFluors represent advances in the ability to sense biomolecules with probes and have many advantages over currently available compounds through their organic, non-toxic, highly stable and metal-free properties. Researchers are already anticipating ways to enhance the capabilities of ORCAFluors by including modified extensions for specific purposes. “That’s the advantage of our platform,” Johnson says. “We can mix and match and add almost anything we want.”

The fluorescence of ORCAFluors is enhanced upon contact with certain biological molecules, particularly in organs that have higher levels. ORCAFluors can potentially be used in the future to sense biological compounds that are enhanced in diseases or tumors. “You may be able to learn more about how diseases progress if you have imaging probes that can sense specific biomolecules,” says Johnson. The ORCAFluor also spreads to various organs and blood, where it circulates for several hours and remains traceable over a period of several days. The long-lasting effects are beneficial for real-time imaging and may have great benefits. “We think we may be able to reveal information about the tumor environment with these probes,” says Johnson.

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work
Popup Builder Mailchimp extension requires authentication.