After several years of work, researchers in Lund have managed to construct an instrument that ‘hyperpolarises’ the molecules and thus makes it possible to track them using MRI. The technology opens up new possibilities to study what really happens on molecular level in organs such as the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an established technique which over the years has made it possible for researchers and healthcare professionals to study biological phenomena in the body without using ionising radiation, for example X-rays.
The images produced by normal MRI are, to put it simply, pictures of water in the body, since the body is largely made up of water. MRI produces images of the hydrogen nuclei in water molecules. It can also be used to study other types of nuclei in many other interesting molecules. The only problem is that the concentration of molecules that are interesting to track is so low that they are not visible on a normal MRI scan. It is this problem that the researchers have now solved by constructing a ‘polariser’.
In the polariser, the researchers make these molecules visible to the MRI scanner by hyperpolarising them. The molecules are then injected into their natural body tissue.
“Then we can follow the specific molecule and see the reactions in which it is involved. This gives us a unique opportunity to see and measure enzymatic reactions directly in the living tissue”, explains Professor Deniz Kirik.
The technology could be used to study molecules in many different types of tissue in the body. Deniz Kirik, who is a Professor of Neuroscience, will focus on developing this technology to study the brain – something which has not been done before.
“The brain is not an easy target!” he observes. “When we look inside the brain today using MRI, we see the molecules that are most numerous. However, it is rarely these common molecules we want to study. We want to study how molecules that have a low concentration in the tissue behave, for example how signal substances are produced, used and broken down. It is when these processes don’t work that we become ill.
“This technology has the potential to help us do just that. If we can make it work, it will be a breakthrough not only for neuroscience but also for other research fields such as diabetes, cancer and inflammation, where similar obstacles limit our understanding of the basic molecular processes which lead to disease.”
Professor Hindrik Mulder is one of the co-applicants for the project and he will develop and use the technology in diabetes research. Dr Vladimir Denisov from the Lund University Bioimaging Centre is leading the technical development within the project.
At present there are only a few polarisers in the world and Lund’s newly built device is the only one in Scandinavia to be fully available for academic research.
“All the other equivalent instruments are purchased commercially and come with restrictions placed by the manufacturer. We therefore chose to take the longer and more complicated route of building the instrument ourselves”, explains a pleased and proud Deniz Kirik.
Now that the instrument has become operational, the researchers have started on the first experiments.
“This is the first of two steps”, says Deniz Kirik. “The next step in this frontline research is to develop the unique technology by constructing an even more sophisticated polariser which will enable advanced experiments on animal models for various diseases.”
The project has been made possible through a grant from the Swedish Research Council and earlier grants from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.
Contact: Deniz Kirik, +46 46 222 05 64, +46 733 82 25 86, Deniz.Kirik@med.lu.se
Megan Grindlay | idw
Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University
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...
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...
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...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy