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University of Basel

03 August 2016

Better Contrast Agents Based on Nanoparticles

Scientists at the University of Basel have developed nanoparticles which can serve as efficient contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. This new type of nanoparticles produce around ten times more contrast than the actual contrast agents and are responsive to specific environments. The journal Chemical Communications has published these results.

Contrast agents enhance the imaging of tissues obtained by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Whilst the detection of structural details in the body can be significantly improved by using contrast agents, current substances produce insufficient contrast for the detection of the early stages of diseases. Another limitation is that current contrast agents do not sense their biochemical environments. Researchers from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel have developed nanoparticles, which can serve as “smart” contrast agents for MRI.

Contrast agents are usually based on the metal Gadolinium, which is injected and serves for an improved imaging of various organs in an MRI. Gadolinium ions should be bound with a carrier compound to avoid the toxicity to the human body of the free ions. Therefore, highly efficient contrast agents requiring lower Gadolinium concentrations represent an important step for advancing diagnosis and improving patient health prognosis.

Smart nanoparticles as contrast agents

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