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Noninvasive metabolic imaging

Dr. Charles Cunningham, a senior scientist in Physical Sciences at SRI, is developing an MRI contrast agent that enables noninvasive metabolic imaging in the body. To do this, the contrast agent, carbon-13-labelled pyruvate, is prepared in a strong magnetic field and injected into a person undergoing MRI. It works by visualizing biochemical reactions within tissue as cells metabolize the contrast agent. In 2016, Cunningham and colleagues became the first in the world to demonstrate noninvasive metabolic MRI of the human heart. He will use this method to characterize the metabolism of damaged heart muscle to detect early stages of heart failure.