Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New technique developed for tracking cells in the body

Scientists' inability to follow the whereabouts of cells injected into the human body has long been a major drawback in developing effective medical therapies.

Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a promising new technique for noninvasively tracking where living cells go after they are put into the body. The new technique, which uses genetically encoded cells producing a natural contrast that can be viewed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), appears much more effective than present methods used to detect injected biomaterials.

Described in the February edition of Nature Biotechnology, the method was developed by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins' Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, the Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, and the F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

In their study, the researchers used a synthetic gene, called a reporter gene, which was engineered to have a high proportion of the amino acid lysine, which is especially rich in accessible hydrogen atoms. Because MRI detects energy-produced shifts in hydrogen atoms, when the "new" gene was introduced into animal cells and then "pelted" with radiofrequency waves from the MRI, it became readily visible. Using the technique as a proof of principle, the researchers were able to detect transplanted tumor cells in animal brains.

... more about:
»DETECT »MRI »technique

"This prototype paves the way for constructing a family of reporter genes, each with proteins tailored to have a specific radiofrequency response," says MRI researcher Assaf Gilad, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

"The specific frequencies can be processed to show up as colors in the MRI image," adds collaborator Mike McMahon, Ph.D., an assistant professor of radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine "In a way, it's the MRI equivalent of the green and red fluorescent proteins found in nature and used by labs everywhere in the world for multiple labeling of cells."

The problem with using fluorescent proteins, however, is that tissue must be removed from the body for examination under a microscope, which means that the method isn't suitable for use in patients. "In contrast," says Hopkins radiology professor Jeff Bulte, Ph.D., "MRI is noninvasive, allowing serial imaging of cells and cellular therapies with a high resolution unmatched by any other clinical whole-body imaging technique."

Current MRI contrast agents also have several disadvantages. "Their concentration becomes lower every time cells divide," says Peter van Zijl, Ph.D., founding director of the Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging, "so our ability to see them diminishes.. Also, using magnetic metal allows us to detect only one type of labeled cell at a time." The new approach is not hampered by these limitations.

Gary Stephenson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: DETECT MRI technique

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark
28.10.2016 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis
28.10.2016 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>