Gadolinium-Nanodiamond Improves MRI contrast Ten Times and a New Cancer Biomarker

1. A Northwestern University study shows that coupling a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent to a nanodiamond results in dramatically enhanced signal intensity and thus vivid image contrast.

Meade, Ho and their colleagues developed a gadolinium(III)-nanodiamond complex that, in a series of tests, demonstrated a significant increase in relaxivity and, in turn, a significant increase in contrast enhancement. The Gd(III)-nanodiamond complex demonstrated a greater than 10-fold increase in relaxivity — among the highest per Gd(III) values reported to date. This represents an important advance in the efficiency of MRI contrast agents.

2. Scientists have found that cancer patients produce antibodies that target abnormal glycoproteins (proteins with sugar molecules attached) made by their tumors. The result of this work suggests that antitumor antibodies in the blood may provide a fruitful source of sensitive biomarkers for cancer detection.

An antibody is a type of protein that the body’s immune system produces when it detects harmful substances called antigens. Antigens include microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. Antibodies are also produced when the immune system mistakenly considers healthy tissue a harmful substance. These antibodies, called autoantibodies, target a person’s own molecules and tissues. Research has shown that cancer patients sometimes make autoantibodies against their own malignant cells and tissues, as part of an immune response against their cancers. It is unclear why some cancer cells evade immune defenses. Scientists hope that such antibodies may ultimately have the potential to help doctors detect cancer by a simple blood test.

They found distinct abnormal mucin-type O-glycopeptide epitopes (parts of molecules that antibodies will recognize and bind to) that were targeted by autoantibodies in cancer patients–but such antibodies were absent in healthy controls.

Although larger sets of specimens will have to be analyzed to fully appreciate the clinical value of this technology, the preliminary results are very promising.

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