• Radiologic Technology News

MRI Tracks Long-Term Stem Cell Growth

Jun 08, 2016

Researchers have developed a contrast agent that can track stem cells throughout their entire life span, according to a study published in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. While conventional contrast agents only last a few days, the new manganese porphyrin compound works by enhancing magnetic resonance imaging effectiveness over an extended term and may shed new light on cardiac regeneration research.

Despite great promise, only a small fraction of stem cells are able to start regenerating damaged organs, such as hearts or lungs. The ability to follow which stem cells are living and which are dying could help scientists adjust therapeutic strategies to maximize their effectiveness in fighting certain diseases. The contrast agent was shown to stay within embryonic stem cells as they were successfully grown into mature heart cells.

Hai-Ling Margaret Cheng, a professor in the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, said in a news release. “Our next step is to conduct full toxicology tests on this contrast agent. Since we’ve already been able to show normal growth of embryonic cells into tissue, I’m confident that we can take this to human clinical trials in the not-too-distant future.”

The study was presented at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine annual conference in Singapore in May.

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