Hyper-SAGE could enhance molecular MR

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Hyperpolarized xenon signal amplification by gas extraction (Hyper-SAGE) is a promising tool for enhancing the sensitivity of nuclear MR spectra and MRI, according to research published in the September online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To date, the application of MRI to biomedical samples has been limited by sensitivity issues.

“By detecting the MRI signal of dissolved hyperpolarized xenon after the xenon has been extracted back into the gas phase, we can boost the signal’s strength up to 10,000 times,” said Alexander Pines, PhD, professor of chemistry who holds joint appointments with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.

“It is absolutely amazing because we’re looking at pure gas and can reconstruct the whole image of our target," Pines said. "With this degree of sensitivity, Hyper-SAGE becomes a highly promising tool for in vivo diagnostics and molecular imaging.”

“In a clinical setting, a patient would inhale the hyperpolarized xenon gas which would be dissolved in the blood and allowed to flow into the body and brain. The exhaled xenon gas would then be collected and its MRI signal would be detected. Used in combination with a target-specific xenon biomolecular sensor, we should be able to study the gas-exchange in the lung and detect cancerous cells at their earliest stage of development,” explained first author Xin Zhou, PhD, a member of Pine's research group.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, through its basic energy sciences programs.