The world’s smallest switchable magnet and its application in medical diagnostics

Published on August 14, 2013

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Western world. More than 140 000 people die each year from stroke in the US. Patients are treated by catheter based surgery. We developed a light-switchable MRI contrast agent to visualize blood-vessels. Switching is performed with an optical fiber that guides the light from the light source to the site of intervention.

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Western world. More than 140 000 people die each year from stroke in the US. Patients are treated by catheter based surgery. The catheter is introduced through a large artery (usually upper leg) and pushed into the brain to remove blood clots, or to stop bleeding. All manipulations are performed under imaging control using X-ray. We developed a light-switchable MRI contrast agent to visualize blood-vessels. Switching is performed with an optical fiber that guides the light from the light source to the site of intervention. Potential advantages are i.a. no radiation exposure, lower concentrations and 3D-imaging. The contrast agent is based on a nickel-porphyrin to which a switchable ligand is attached. It is the first molecule whose spin state can be reversibly switched at room temperature. Further developments are aimed at MRI contrast agents that are responsive to pH, temperature, and other parameters for the early detection of inflammation and cancer.

Herges Group | Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany

Rainer Herges is Professor for Organic Chemistry at the Otto-Diels-Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany. He is the coordinator of the collaborative research center “Function by Switching” (SFB 677) funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). His research interests include supramolecular chemistry, photochemistry, Möbius aromaticity, and computational chemistry.

Marcel Dommaschk has been working in the group of Prof. Herges as Diploma student since 2010, and since 2011 he is working on his PhD thesis. He synthesized the first room temperature magnetically switchable molecules.

Sources
Venkataramani, S.; Jana, U.; Domamschk, M.; Sönnichsen, F.D.; Tuczek, R.; Herges, R.: Magnetic Bistability of Molecules in Homogeneous Solution at Room Temperature, Science 2011, 331, 445-448. DOI:10.1126/science.1201180

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