Developing and Improving MRI Contrast Agent
Professor Lee Dong-yun (Department of Biotechnology)
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Contrast agents are the substances injected inside or outside of the digestive tract or blood vessels in order to show tissue or blood vessels more clearly during radio graphic examinations such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) imaging. Its role is crucial as it improves the diagnostic value by artificially increasing the X-ray absorption of each tissue, which makes it more easy to distinguish the biomechanical structure or the lesion from the surroundings. Professor Lee Dong-yun (Department of Biotechnology), through his paper “MRI-sensitive contrast agent with anticoagulant activity for surface camouflage of transplanted pancreatic islets,” has presented an inventive contrast agent that kills two birds with one stone.
“When I was conducting this research regarding treatment of diabetes, my biggest concern was whether the outcome would be useful in the medical field or not. Even if the research is flawless, it is of no use if it cannot be put into real uses.” A contrast agent could evoke two main issues: the issue of MRI detection and of blood coagulation. Lee’s research, however, has overcome the two problems. In hopes of creating medical technologies that are valuable and pragmatic, specifically concerning contrast agents in this research, Lee has gone through detailed research and experiments.
The contrast agent Lee has formulated approaches the body in a different manner. Instead of directly injecting the contrast agent into the patient’s body, Lee attached them on the cell therapy products through chemical reaction and then instill the contrast-agent-dissolved cell therapy products into the body. This not only makes detection of cells through MRI or CT imaging possible but also enables controlling of blood coagulation and prevent fibering clot. In Lee’s research, which specifically deals with patients of diabetes, a technology to transplant insulin-secreting cell has been devised for the sufferer.
As shown in the diagram, islets (clusters of cells) are implanted into the blood vessels of the liver through catheter, which leads to the problem of accumulation of blood platelets on the surface of the newly implanted cells. This would eventually result in blood coagulation, creating thick fibering clots, further resulting in destruction of the cells. This means the cell therapy products lose their original function and go into nullity. However, with Lee’s research, as the contrast agents are acting as a layer to prevent accumulation of blood platelets and prevent blood coagulation and allow MRI detection at the same time, the use of the newly developed contrast agent is expected to be put in various uses.
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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