New imaging technique to visualize bio-metals and molecules

May 2, 2013
Photograph of GREI-II.

Metal elements and molecules interact in the body but visualizing them together has always been a challenge. Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies have developed a new molecular imaging technology that enables them to visualize bio-metals and bio-molecules simultaneously in a live mouse. This new technology will enable researchers to study the complex interactions between metal elements and molecules in living organisms.

Metal elements such as zinc, iron and copper are present in trace amounts in the body and play an important role in myriad biological processes including gene expression, and . Abnormalities in the behaviour of these elements often reflect abnormalities in associated bio-molecules and studying them together can offer great insight into many biological processes.

Bio-molecules can be visualized in using positron emission tomography (PET), a widely used nuclear medical technique.

Dr. Shuichi Enomoto, Dr. Shinji Motomura and colleagues, from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies have developed a gamma-ray imaging camera enabling them to detect the gamma-rays emitted by multiple bio-metal elements in the body and study their behavior.

Results of imaging experiment on a tumor-bearing mouse: a) localization of the three lines of tumour cells; b) localization of the labeled antibody; c) localization of Zn-containing injected radioactive agent

Their second prototype of the system, called GREI–II and presented today in the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, enables them to visualize multiple bio-metal elements more than 10 times faster than before, and to do so simultaneously with positron emission tomography (PET).

In the study, the researchers were able to visualise two radioactive agents injected in a tumor-bearing mouse, as well as an anti-tumor antibody labelled with a PET agent, simultaneously in the live mouse.

This new revolutionary technology is expected to offer new insights into the relationships between bio-metal elements and associated bio-molecules, and the roles they play in diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Explore further: New molecular imaging techniques may lead to advances in disease treatment

More information: Motomura, S. et al. Improved imaging performance of semiconductor Compton camera GREI makes for a new methodology to integrate bio-metal analysis and molecular imaging technology in living organisms, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 2013.,doi: 10.1039/C3JA30185K

Related Stories

Dual-Mode Nanoparticles Image Tumors Using MRI and PET

August 15, 2008

Medical imaging represents one of the most used and useful procedures in the oncologist’s diagnostic toolkit, even though each of the most useful techniques—magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography x-ray ...

FDA clears Siemens' 2-in-1 medical scanner

June 10, 2011

(AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says it has cleared the first medical imaging device to simultaneously perform two powerful scans used to diagnose a wide variety of diseases and ailments.

Imaging inflammation in the living brain

September 30, 2011

Inflammation occurs in the human brain during illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury. Now, a research team in Japan has developed a probe that can bind to the pro-inflammatory ...

Recommended for you

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

November 27, 2015

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has led researchers to identify a potentially significant new application for a well-known ...

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.