Luna nanoWorks’ Next-Generation MRI Contrast Agent Breakthrough Published in Journal of Medicinal Chemistry


Researchers from Luna nanoWorks, a division of Luna Innovations Incorporated, and the Washington University School of Medicine co-authored a paper titled “Hydrochalarones: A Novel Endohedral Metallofullerene Platform for Enhancing Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast” that was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The paper describes a new contrast agent in which gadolinium is encapsulated within an extremely stable carbon nanosphere, thus allowing for safe, extended residence within the body. The new compounds may be used to visualize tissue architecture in vivo using standard Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques. Luna’s HYDROCHALARONE™ molecules have initially proven to be more effective at enhancing images and are potentially safer than current gadolinium-containing contrast agents, which have been associated with health problems.

In today’s agents, the gadolinium is formulated in a chelate to prevent toxicity. The chelate binds around the gadolinium, preventing toxicity. The chelate agent is designed to be in the body for a short period of time, and is cleansed through renal elimination. In kidney disease, the cleansing system slows down, allowing the chelate and the gadolinium to separate, which exposes the patient to the toxic metal molecule.

Luna’s HYDROCHALARONE™ was selected for preclinical studies and collaboration with National Cancer Institute’s Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory. “The goal of Luna’s product development effort with the HYDROCHALARONE™ is using it as a fundamental building block that may generate a portfolio of novel imaging agents targeted to reveal diagnostic information specific for a variety of different diseases, such as cancer tumors, sites of inflammation and plaque related to coronary artery diseases, as announced in our previous press release,” said Robert Lenk, President of Luna’s nanoWorks Division and an author on the paper.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been reviewing reports about patients who have developed a new disease after receiving a chelate-based contrast agent. This debilitating disease, known as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis or Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NSF/NFD), may affect the skin, muscles and internal organs and can cause death. The FDA has issued a black-box warning to heighten awareness about the risk of NSF/NFD, particularly in patients with kidney and liver problems.

The Journal of Medicinal Chemistry is a publication of the American Chemical Society that focuses on original research dealing with chemical-biological relationships, mainly the bond between molecular structure and biological activity. The paper can be downloaded at the following link: here



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