Posted by: arisfil | April 30, 2008

MRI and genes

MRI of Brain Repair (see text)

Credit: Image courtesy Philip Liu of Harvard Medical School.

Well MRI is a an imaging modality that has altered the path of medicine and especially aided neurosciences. Brain and spine mysteries unveiled by MRI and the quality of health care has substantially increased. So one could say that MRI has completed its trip to aid medicine. WRONG! What about imaging in the submicroscopical level ? MRI cannot “see” the world of genes and proteins, right ? WRONG!

Harvard researchers invented a non-invasive way of gene-targeting and imaging by utilizing a novel contrast agent (SPION) linked to cerebral GFAP, a protein that binds to glia and astrocytes under repairing or damaging conditions. This novel agent was included in a eye-drop solution that delivered to the studied animals! The results were the demonstration of  localization of the specific binding of GFAP to cells in the brain of rat that had undergone blood brain barrier leakage in various settings like ischemia, puncture wound, e.t.c. The SPION component revealed its co-localization with GFAP in the MRI imaging (see picture).

The results of this research were published in the FASEB journal:


Noninvasive delivery of gene targeting probes to live brains for transcription MRI.

Liu CH, You Z, Ren J, Kim YR, Eikermann-Haerter K, Liu PK.

FASEB J. 2008 Apr;22(4):1193-203. Epub 2007 Nov 20

Copyright © 2008 by The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

This is a novel agent that utilizes non-invasiveness in the world of studying brain damage. A great step has been achieved. It needs time in order to unveil the mysteries of brain genes but brilliant minds make the trip shorter and more beautiful!



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