Kristina Djanashvili, a postdoc at Delft University of Technology in Holland, has developed a new contrast agent for imaging tumors under magnetic resonance. The new substance promises better targeting and can be embedded into thermosensitive liposomes, which are carrier particles that can release their cargo when heat is applied.
From TU Delft:
The new agent is a compound incorporating a lanthanide chelate and a phenylboronate group substance. The lanthanide chelate ensures a strong, clear MRI signal, while the phenylboronate group substance ‘searches out’ cancerous tissue.
The lanthanide chelate influences the behaviour of water molecules, even inside the human body. It is ultimately the behaviour of the hydrogen nuclei in the water molecules that makes MRI possible and determines the quality of the image produced. The stronger the influence of the lanthanide chelate on the neighbouring hydrogen nuclei (the so-called water exchange) and the more hydrogen nuclei affected, the better the MRI signal obtained. Djanashvili has defined the methods for determining the water exchange parameters.
Djanashvili has also provided her contrast agent with enhanced tumour-seeking properties by including a phenylboronate group substance. Phenylboronate has an affinity with certain sugary molecules that tend to concentrate on the surface of tumour cells. What makes the selected phenylboronate-containing agent special is its ability to chemically bond with the surface of a tumour cell.
Finally, Djanashvili has managed to incorporate the compound into so-called thermosensitive liposomes. A thermosensitive liposome forms a sort of protective ball, which opens (releasing the active compound) only when heated to roughly 42 degrees. This means that, by localised heating of a particular part of the body, it is possible to control where the compound is released. The positive results obtained from testing the new agent on mice open the way for further research.
Press release: Better MRI scans of cancers made possible by TU Delft…