IT chemists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed new nanoparticles that can simultaneously perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescent imaging in living animals.
Such particles could help scientists to track specific molecules produced in the body, monitor a tumor's environment, or determine whether drugs have successfully reached their targets, reports Science Daily.
In a paper in the 18 November issue of Nature Communications, the researchers demonstrate the use of the particles, which carry distinct sensors for fluorescence and MRI, to track vitamin C in mice. Wherever there is a high concentration of vitamin C, the particles show a strong fluorescent signal but little MRI contrast. If there is not much vitamin C, a stronger MRI signal is visible but fluorescence is very weak.
Future versions of the particles could be designed to detect reactive oxygen species that often correlate with disease, says Jeremiah Johnson, an assistant professor of chemistry at MIT and senior author of the study. They could also be tailored to detect more than one molecule at a time.
"You may be able to learn more about how diseases progress if you have imaging probes that can sense specific biomolecules," Johnson says.