Imaging agents are small molecules that improve the contrast of images obtained using MRI, and are administered intravenously or orally. However, they are often rapidly cleared from the body by the kidneys. Scientists at Aten Biotherapeutics (IN, USA) branch in India, in conjunction with researchers at Purdue University (IN, USA) are developing MRI imaging agents that will hopefully improve the technique, by combating retention and toxicity issues of current agents.
“In a traditional MRI session, an agent has a half-life of only about five minutes. This means the ability to capture a useful image usually is lost within 15 or 20 minutes. That isn’t long enough to image tumors or cardiovascular problems. These imaging applications would require the administration of more contrast agent,” stated David Thompson, researcher at Purdue University and president of Aten Biotherapeutics.
To add to the dilemma, some of the current clinically approved agents can lead to kidney toxicity, therefore increasing the concentration of the imaging agent to achieve longer imaging sessions is not possible.
The research team at Purdue, led by Thompson, is developing controlled-release imaging agents, which will hopefully allow for longer, safer imaging sessions.
Aditya Kulkarni, chief technology officer at Aten Biotherapeutics, stated: “Agents are released in a slower, more controlled fashion. This leads to a lower concentration requirement for capturing an MR image. The lower concentration of the imaging agent, combined with its longer circulation and degradation into nontoxic byproducts, could potentially lower the risk of long MR imaging procedures.”
Aten Biopharapeautics is now conducting culture work, synthesis and analytical research in the company’s laboratory in Bangalore (India). Looking to the future, Kulkarni commented: “Our goal is to conduct clinical trials for this MRI agent which in turn will enable its clinical and commercial translation.”