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Researchers at Case Western University are making MRI multicolored as a way to conduct more comprehensive and precise disease diagnosis. Introduced by Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield in the 1980s, and considered “one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the 20th century,” MRI traditionally uses one single contrast agent to illuminate images in the brain. This new technique enables radiologists to use these two contrast agents — gadolinium and manganese — to differentiate between healthy tissue and diseased tissue.

Currently, MRI is limited to only measuring one agent at a time. However, this study utilized Dual Contrast – Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting (DC-MRF) to assess the “local concentration of multiple MRI contrast agents following simultaneous administration.” According to ScienceDaily, follow-up application of this methodology could potentially be applied to the study of cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and cancer.

The group of researchers was comprised of nurses, uniting engineers, clinicians, scientific researchers, and members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. In their study published in Nature, they explain how gadolinium and manganese can be used to interpret images. “The development of a ‘multi-color’ MRI methodology to independently monitor simultaneously-administered targeted and control MRI contrast agents, and potentially multiple targeted MRI contrast agents, would significantly improve preclinical molecular MRI studies,” write the researchers.

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