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Project TitleFlexible and Cost Effective Contrast Agent Enhanced Preclinical MRI
Track CodeR-AI-025
Short Description

Imaging scientists at Robarts have developed delta relaxivity enhanced magnetic resonance (dreMR) as a new technology for preclinical imaging which makes use of a dynamic polarizing magnetic field and contrast agents that demonstrate magnetic field dependence.  The examination of molecular probes at different polarizing magnetic field strengths allows the user to generate high contrast images not readily available while using conventional MRI methods.  The dreMR could be applied by using a removable insert or it could be directly incorporated into any 1.0-3.0 Tesla MRI machine making it a cost effective choice over high field microMRI systems.  

Tagspreclinical imaging, field cycling, contrast agent, mri, small animal imaging, bench top MRI, molecular probes
Posted DateAug 31, 2010 10:07 AM


Bryce Pickard


MRI is a well established tool for providing high quality images with contrast between different types of normal body tissue as well as between pathologic tissues and normal tissues.  In 2008, in the US alone, 28 million scans of patients were performed for diagnostic purposes.  MRI use is also expanding to become an integral component of the preclinical imaging market.  In 2005, the US preclinical imaging market was worth $172.5 million and has shown steady growth since then with revenues predicted to exceed $550 million by 2012.  Typically the small animal preclinical MRI imaging systems are high field scanners with magnetic field strengths ranging from 4.7 to 17.6 Tesla, much higher than the clinical field strengths of 1.5 to 3.0 Tesla.  Using such high strength magnets introduces significant barriers to research such as cost and complicated infrastructure.

One of the major drivers of growth in the preclinical market is the increased attention to molecular imaging which relies on the use of probes or contrast agents to visualize biological processes at the molecular level.  In the US, the MRI contrast agent market is projected to grow to $1.87 billion in 2012.  Currently, over 40% of MRI scans are performed using some form of a contrast agent.  Activatable probes, a probe whose behavior is mediated by an interaction with the target molecule, show the most promise.  To date, however, these probes combined with conventional MRI have relatively modest signal intensity ratios between inactivated and activated states.  Competition within preclinical MRI systems is providing the best imaging capability, with flexibility and at a reasonable cost. An opportunity exists for an MRI system that capitalizes on the growing preclinical market, without the cost of high field MRI systems, that embraces the utility of preclinical contrast agents.

Potential Advantages/Uses

- Fully validated method of increasing MRI image contrast.

- Easily applied to existing MRI systems.

- Fully functional prototypes for both mouse and rabbit imaging.

- Potential application for preclinical diagnostic imaging.

- Cost effective method for high contrast preclinical imaging.

- Ideal for incorporation into an existing “bench top” MRI imaging system.

Patent/Development Status

PCT National Phase application

Prototype validation

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