Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

MRI Adapted to Track Infection, Swelling

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

MRI Adapted to Track Infection, Swelling

Article excerpt

Global positioning systems have long been used to track vehicles, people, children, dogs -- anything that moves or might get lost.

So imagine a new technology that modifies magnetic resonance imaging to track immune cells to follow cellular processes or pinpoint hidden areas of infection and inflammation anywhere inside the human body.

A research team based at Carnegie Mellon University has modified an MRI system to track immune cells tagged with fluorine atoms to areas of infection or inflammation. The image generated allows concentrations of fluorine to be visualized, denoting immune-cell reaction to inflammation in three dimensions.

Written by Deepak K. Kadayakkara, a post-doctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who earned his doctoral degree at CMU last May, the study was published recently in the journal Laboratory Investigation. Eric T. Ahrens, a CMU associate professor of biological sciences, led the project.

The system initially was used to track inflammation from irritable bowel disease, which currently requires invasive colonoscopies and biopsies for diagnoses that aren't always successful. But Mr. Ahrens said the new MRI technology can track inflammation anywhere in the body by generating images of cells tagged with fluorine.

"Basically what we've developed is a platform not only for irritable bowel disease, but any localized inflammatory condition such as organ transplant rejection, occult infections, the inflammation component of cancer, traumatic brain injury, other injuries and wounds, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease," he said.

The new technology also would allow a clinician to monitor inflammation before, during and after drug treatment.

The process involves tagging macrophages, T-cells or cells not involved with the immune response with fluorine-19, the natural fluorine isotope, whose signals, created when energized by MRI, are captured to produce an image. …

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