Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

Project 11: Frowin Ellermann

Hyperpolarized MRI for imaging flow, drugs and metabolism

The goal of this project is to make new technologies in the field of biomedical imaging available for the Research Training Group RTG 2154: the hyperpolarization of contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (NMR). When it comes to medical diagnosis, MRI is a powerful and versatile method. At the same time, the method is very insensitive: usually, no more than a few parts per million of a sample effectively contribute to the final MRI signal. Being sufficient for medical imaging, the signal intensity is too low for non-invasive in-vivo biochemical analysis due to low polarization of the sample. Conventitional contrast agents, which increase signal intensity, change the imaging properties of water or fat in soft-tissues and may contain potentially hazardous rare-earth element compounds. This is where hyperpolarization steps in: with dedicated quantum mechanical “tricks”, the polarization of drugs and metabolites can be increased and thus yield to an enhancement in signal intensity by several orders of magnitude. This enables imaging of diluted metabolites that are impossible to  observe under normal conditions. As a result, other projects of the RTG will be supported by the characterization of drug transport and metabolism. The project includes three packages: adaption of the hyperpolarization technology, its application on vessel imaging and finally imaging of drugs and metabolism. The project will be in collaboration with project P2b (blood vessel imaging with hyperpolarized media) and the projects P3, P4 and P5 (imaging of drug release and metabolism).


F. Ellermann