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Protein-Based Contrast Agents for MRI


Project TitleProtein-Based Contrast Agents for MRI
Track Code2006-107
Short Description

Novel contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging that enhances image intensity

#healthcare #MRI #imaging


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an important diagnostic and preventative medicine tool. It is also used in laboratory research to enhance cellular and molecular biology studies. MRI depends on the use of contrast agents to visualize cells and tissues. Currently, metal ions such as gadolinium, manganese and iron are used as contrast agents, but because of their toxicity they have to be administered in a chelated state. In addition, these types of contrast agents are quickly excreted from the body. Northwestern University researchers have developed novel contrast agents that employ short protein polymers as chelators for the gadolinium ion. This is an improvement because it allows for higher contrast in the MR image. In addition, these new contrast agents are monodisperse and can be attached to additional components to enhance targeting to specific tissues or parts of a cell. Furthermore, the protein polymer backbone can be easily produced in large quantities and any changes to the backbone are easy to generate. 

Posted DateJan 28, 2015 6:12 PM


Annelise E. Barron*

Thomas J. Meade*

Lindsay S. Karfeld

Steve R. Bull


  • Clinical imaging of tissues for diagnosis of disease (e.g. breast cancer)
  • Laboratory imaging for tissue engineering research 


  • Monodisperse
  • Biodegradable
  • Easy to produce in large quantities
  • Increased MRI intensity


IP Status

International patent application has been filed. US patent number 8,021,646 has been issued.

Contact Information

Zach Brown, PhD

Invention Associate

(p) 847.491.4629