Project partner: Prof. Joachim Lotz (Universitätsmedizin Göttingen)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a rather insensitive imaging technique that is used in medicine for the diagnosis of e.g. cancer. New contrast agent-based methods for enhancing the comparatively weak MRI signals are expected to help detect tumors and metastases even earlier in the future, including cancers that have so far been difficult to diagnose. These contrast agents yield MRI signals that are more than 100,000 times larger than normal signals. The signal-enhanced contrast agents are based on endogenous substances that play a central role in sugar metabolism. Tumors and metastases differ from healthy tissue in a way that their sugar metabolism is altered. Consequently, changes in sugar metabolism, which are easy to visualize via MRI thanks to the contrast agents, can be indicative of cancer. In this way, tumors can be visualized at an early stage by MRI and without invasive intervention.
The Max Planck Research Group for NMR Signal Enhancement has developed signal-enhanced contrast agents, which can be generated particularly quickly, and has been able to visualize tumors in preclinical experiments. Now, the group wants to make their results available for use in patients as soon as possible. Additionally, the extraordinarily high signals achieved also enables imaging in low magnetic fields and thus in small, inexpensive and portable tomographs. This could help giving more people access to MRIs in the future.
The funded project aims at developing a device to produce human doses of signal-enhanced contrast agents that can be placed in clinics near an MRI. Subsequently, initial patient studies will be conducted.
Here you can find further information.