Magazine article USA TODAY

New Compound Aids Imaging Machines

Magazine article USA TODAY

New Compound Aids Imaging Machines

Article excerpt

Unique chemical compounds called perfluorocarbons (PFCs) show an impressive assortment of potential life-saving applications. They are carving niches as contrast fluids for diagnosing disease with computerized imaging machines, perfusing the heart with oxygen following a heart attack, preserving kidneys and other organs donated for transplantation, surgery on the retina of the eye, and cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

PFCs are highly stable compounds of fluorine and carbon, chemical cousins of the Teflon on nonstick cookware. They have a combination of characteristics--including inertness, relative lack of toxicity, and an ability to dissolve oxygen--that makes them well-suited for medical applications. Their ability to carry oxygen, somewhat like hemoglobin in blood, renders them attractive as blood substitutes that avoid the risk of transmitting AIDS and other serious blood-borne diseases.

Jean Riess, director of the Laboratory for Molecular Chemistry at France's University of Nice, reports that American and European clinical trials of PFCs for use in diagnostic imaging are proceeding well. …

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