Medical Research

University of California, Davis

Angelique Louie, Jared Shaw, Yohei Yokobayashi
Davis, CA
$1,000,000
December 2013

Non-invasive visualization of gene expression in deep and opaque tissues remains a challenge.  Current molecular markers for gene expression work well in thin or transparent subjects, but it is difficult to optically probe the deeper regions of adult mammalian systems.  This project would develop new imaging reagents for detecting gene expression using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  The gene for a naturally florescent protein, luciferase, will be linked to the gene to be studied so that they are always expressed together.  The energy of the light from luciferase will induce a structural change in nearby gadolinium probes, enabling them to be detected by MRI.  Whereas traditional MRI reagents such as iron, cannot distinguish live from dead cells and are good for one time measurements only, the proposed strategy would allow for monitoring of gene expression over time as well as in deep tissues.  If successful, this project could enable basic mechanistic studies such as tracking stem cells in vivo or observing cancer metastasis.

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