The use of hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance (HP 13C MR) to perform radiological scans can provide novel information for medical diagnostic purpose. HP 13C-molecules are injected intravenously and allow performing metabolic imaging, highlighting diseased tissues and treatment response. HP 13C-urea is also a potential nontoxic alternative to gadolinium-based contrast agents for MRI. Hyperpolarization aims at dramatically increasing the 13C MR signal by dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP), which requires the use of free radicals. The presence of free radicals prevents the storage and transport of HP 13C-molecules which thus need to be prepared a few minutes prior to injection using hot water as dissolution medium. Within the framework of the ASSIMILES project, it was already demonstrated that by using photo-induced free radicals, HP 13C-molecules can be polarized and then extracted in the form of frozen solution following the annihilation of the free radicals.
The aim of METAMORPHOSIS is to implement and commercialize devices compatible with the creation and annihilation of photo-induced free radicals in a controlled and reproducible manner, and that can be easily transferred in and out of a cryogenic environment. This innovation is expected to lead to a paradigm shift for 3 main reasons: (a) it will eliminate critical failures related to the dissolution process currently used to prepare doses of HP C-molecules for injection; (b) it will remove the need for synchronizing production and injection since doses can be polarized ahead of time; (c) it will become possible to place the polarizer in a remote location because doses can be stored and transported. The overall objective is to provide a complete solution to prepare and deliver HP 13C-molecules to MRI suites. Unlike with the current dissolution DNP method, the MRI suite would not need to be equipped with a polarizer, which could instead be remotely located in another building or in a nearby facility.
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