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MIT’s new nanotechnology could revolutionize medicine

A team of MIT researchers have developed nanoparticle sensors that could eventually be used to monitor tumors or other diseases, as well as act as a tool to diagnose illnesses. These nanoparticles are made of polymer chains that can bind to the sensors a doctor needs. For instance, in the scientists’ tests, they used an MRI contrast agent called nitroxide along with Cy5.5, which glows when it encounters vitamin C, as sensors.

MIT chemists have developed new nanoparticles that can simultaneously perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescent imaging in living animals. Such particles could help scientists to track specific molecules produced in the body, monitor a tumor’s environment, or determine whether drugs have successfully reached their targets. In a paper appearing in the Nov. 18 issue of Nature Communications, the researchers demonstrate the use of the particles, which carry distinct sensors for fluorescence and MRI, to track vitamin C in mice. Wherever there is a high concentration of vitamin C, the particles show a strong fluorescent signal but little MRI contrast. If there is not much vitamin C, a stronger MRI signal is visible but fluorescence is very weak.

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