Multi-Color MRIs Could Improve Disease Diagnosis

The use of multiple contrast agents could allow providers to track several biomarkers.

Current magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques rely on a single contract agent injected into the patient’s bloodstream to highlight certain areas. The authors of a study published by Nature Scientific Reports discovered an approach that would make the imaging multicolor, which could improve the treatment of several diseases.

MRI uses a magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to image organs, soft tissue, bones, and internal organs. It can be used to diagnose or monitor various diseases, including tumors, liver conditions, heart problems, and vasculitis, according to RadiologyInfo.org.

The new method uses 2 contrast agents, gadolinium and manganese. The authors report that the multicolor MRI could allow physicians to track characteristics of multiple organs through 1 MRI. The authors believe that this technique could be used for research and to help improve diagnoses.

“The method we developed enables, for the first time, the simultaneous detection of 2 different MRI contrast agents,” said researcher Chris Flask, PhD.

The use of 2 agents could allow for 1 to target diseased organs, while the other could target healthy tissues. This would allow physicians to directly compare how each agent is distributed throughout the body, according to the study.

“This multi-agent detection capability has the potential to transform molecular imaging, as it provides a critical translational pathway for studies in patients,” Dr Flask said. It also provides a unique imaging platform to rigorously study molecular therapies.”

The authors said that the technique could help target specific biomarkers or other molecules linked to a certain disease.

The investigators also provided quantitative imaging framework for assessing the 2 agents simultaneously, which could be harnessed for the early diagnosis and treatment of several diseases, according to the study.

The authors have started to conduct further research about the practical application of the multicolor MRI in a clinical setting.

“In this initial paper, we validated our new methodology, opening the possibility for numerous follow-on application studies in cancer, genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes,” Dr Flask concluded.