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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2007 Feb;18(1):4-10. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Emerging concepts in molecular MRI.

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Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers the potential to image some events at the cellular and subcellular level and many significant advances have recently been witnessed in this field. The introduction of targeted MR contrast agents has enabled the imaging of sparsely expressed biological targets in vivo. Furthermore, high-throughput screens of nanoparticle libraries have identified nanoparticles that act as novel contrast agents and which can be targeted with enhanced diagnostic specificity and range. Another class of magnetic nanoparticles have also been designed to image dynamic events; these act as 'switches' and could be used in vitro, and potentially in vivo, as biosensors. Other specialized MR probes have been developed to image enzyme activity in vivo. Lastly, the use of chemical exchange and off-resonance techniques have been developed, adding another dimension to the broad capabilities of molecular MRI and offering the potential of multispectral imaging. These and other advances in molecular MRI offer great promise for the future and have significant potential for clinical translation.

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