MRIs and Stem-Cell Tracking: Making Leaps and Bounds

“Intravenous iron can be used to safely and efficiently label stem cell transplants for tracking with MR Imaging in arthritic joints and other target tissues.” What does this mean?

The stem cells being used here are called bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs. They are highly effective in tissue regeneration and cell-based therapy, meaning they can repair damage on joints through the connective tissue, bone, and cartilage.

So what’s the problem?

Stem cells often die or disappear after being transplanted to the recipient.

However, this new iron is a way to highlight and track these cells to make sure everything’s going well in the patient. The stem cells are taken from the donor, treated with the iron oxide solution, and placed in the patient, who can then be monitored with noninvasive imaging.

“The findings point to the ultimate clinical role of MR imaging for cell tracking: monitoring the accuracy of cell injection in real time with MR-compatible catheters.”

Because of this technology, we expect to soon have the ability to repair heart damage and brain neurons as well.

You can read the full article from RSNA here.