Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-damaging and non-invasive imaging modality, with the abilities to effortlessly image the entire brain at any depth. However, MRI provides images with low contrast and very poor resolution, and these are but an indirect description of features in the tissue (e.g. cells) because MRI images water protons. These aspects limit the use of MRI in pre-clinical research settings (e.g. biomedical research) to study brain diseases. Resultantly, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are constantly in search of novel methods that endow MRI with capabilities to distinguish defined biological targets for the study of brain diseases in animal models. Currently, there are no suitable solutions. We specifically address these shortcomings, and extend the capabilities of MRI, by developing an all-in-one solution. The solution consists of the synthesis of novel targeted fluorescent contrast agents suitable for light microscopy, computed tomography and MRI, and the parallel engineering of cells. When combined, cells in the brains of animals can be detected by MRI in vivo. Lastly, we provide a unique ex vivo protocol for validating the targets imaged by MRI in vivo.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme