Martha Kahlson

Modification of a Commercially Available MRI Contrast Agent for Novel and Expanded Applications

Regenerating tissues and organs cannot survive without new blood vessel growth (neovascularization). Characterizing the extent of this neovascularization with high contrast and accurate visualization is crucial to evaluate organ and tissue function. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a useful, popular, noninvasive tool for visualizing blood vessel systems in live subjects. This imaging method is greatly improved with use of contrast agents, which are designed to target the area or system of interest, and provide improved visualization. To date, however, the only FDA-approved commercially available MRI contrast agents are small molecules that are filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, into the bladder, making imaging of the bladder vascularization impossible. I synthesized a large molecule contrast agent which made MRI contrast-enhanced study of regenerating bladders possible. Additionally, this model contrast agent provided over ten-times the contrast enhancement of its commercially available counterpart.