Gene therapy research has been stymied by unanswered questions about
whether the therapeutic genes are integrated into the DNA of the targeted
cells and whether the desired gene products are being produced. But scientists
at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa) may help researchers answer
these questions with a new technique that uses magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) to create high resolution images of in vivo gene expression deep in
the body’s tissues.
The technique, which has so far been tested on mouse models, was recently
published in Nature Medicine (NatMed. 2005; 11:450-454). Designed for use
in preclinical research on gene therapy or studies with transgenic animals,
this noninvasive technique could be applied to fields as varied as cancer
research, neuroscience, and pharmacology, said Eric T. Ahrens, PhD, an assistant
professor in the department of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.
It might also one day be applied to humans—although Ahern said the immediate
applications are strictly preclinical.
Kuehn BM. MRI Reveals Gene Activity In Vivo. JAMA. 2005;293(21):2584. doi:10.1001/jama.293.21.2584