New type of molecular tag makes MRI 10,000 times more sensitive

Duke University researchers have discovered a new form of MRI that’s 10,000 times more sensitive and could record actual biochemical reactions, such as those involved in cancer and heart disease, and in real time.MRI’s ability to track chemical transformations in the body has been limited by the low sensitivity of the technique. That makes it impossible to detect small numbers of molecules (without using unattainably more massive magnetic fields).The new molecular tags open up a new world for medicine and research by making it possible to detect what’s happening in optically opaque tissue instead of requiring expensive positron emission tomography (PET), which uses a radioactive tracer chemical to look at organs in the body and only works for (typically) about 20 minutes, or CT x-rays.