Dual-modality MRI and PET nanoparticle agents
Development of dual-modality, aluminium hydroxide stabilised magnetic nanoparticles probes is published in the Biomaterials 2014 July issue. The main author of the article titled ‘Aluminium hydroxide stabilised MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 nanoparticles as dual-modality contrasts agent for MRI and PET imaging’  is Dr. Xianjin Cui, member of Philip Blower’s group at King's College London, Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. The article is a collaboration between researchers from King’s College London (UK), Nottingham University (UK), Aston University (UK), CROmed Ltd. (Hungary). This is an open access article. Download the Article in PDF, Appendix A in Word.
Superparamagnetic nanoparticles (NPs) have been intensively investigated due to their potential applications in biosensors, targeted drug develivery, MRI and localised hyperthermia induction. The problem with these nanoparticles is that they tend to aggregate to minimize the surface energy. Bio-applications require colloidal stability and dispersibility in water and biological environments. There are several methods described in the literature to obtain stable colloids of magnetic nanoparticles. A simple approach is presented in the article to stabilise magnetic nanoparticles by coating them with an Al(OH)3 layer via a hydrolysis process for conjugation. The use of an inorganic shell material introduces stability, functionality (nanoparticle recognised by the macrophage-monocytic system) and water-solubility. The materials, general characterisation, synthesis and radiolabelling are described in the article.
in vivo PET/MR imaging
What is interesting for our blog is that for in vivo PET/MR imaging of the agents on mice were performed on the integrated nanoScan preclinical PET/MRI imaging system installed at the Nanobiotechnology & In Vivo Imaging Center, Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary.
The total injected F-18 activity was 0.95 MBq (25.7 microCi). PET scanning was started immediately after injection and continued for 120 min. Acquisition took place in 1–5 coincidence mode with 5 ns coincidence window, 400–600 keV energy window. MR scanning was performed immediately after PET. A 3D expectation maximisation (3D EM) PET reconstruction algorithm (Mediso Tera-Tomo™) was applied to produce PET images including corrections for attenuation and scatter, dead time, decay and randoms. After 8 iterations the reconstruction stopped resulting in images with 0.1 mm voxel size and time frames of 8 × 15 min. The images of the two modalities were fused automatically.
The PET/MRI fused image is presented in the Appendix A. of the article. The injected activity was only 0.95 MBq (25.7 microCi) and the PET images show only 15 minutes of acquisition!
In vivo PET/MRI images of a normal young C57BL/6 mouse using 18F radiolabelled 3: (a) whole body PET image showing distribution of 18F 30 minutes post injection (maximum intensity projection, mice in prone position); (b) PET/MRI fused image (coronal section, 0-15 minutes); (c) PET/MRI fused image (coronal section, 105-120 minutes); (d) MR image prior to the injection of NPs, and (e) MR image post the injection of NPs, showing a darkening contrast at lung and live area. Due to the unstable Al(OH)3 shell, 18F-fluoride radioactivity was released from magnetic NPs 3 within 15 minutes and localised in bone.
The reconstruction features the TeraTomo algorithm's latest version which will be available for all our sites this autumn. In our opinion it is hard to get better bone images nowadays with PET for such a low injected activity than it’s featured in this article. Funnily enough noone intended to make bone images as this is a proof that the radiolabel went off from the nanoparticles and trapped in bones of the mouse. Remember, this is not a F-18 flouride bone scan! The ‘grainy’ PET image isn't the result of any regularization issue – this represents the real uneven flour uptake in the bones. You can notice the anatomical features of the knee joint – the patella, condyles of femur can be distinguished as well!
Read more about the integrated, automated small animal whole-body PET/MRI system.
 Cui, X. et al. Aluminium hydroxide stabilised MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 nanoparticles as dual-modality contrasts agent for MRI and PET imaging. Biomaterials doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.04.004