Tirrell Group


We are currently researching the use of Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIS) as methods for the in vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaques. MPI is a developing imaging technique that would allow us to use iron oxide particles as a positive contrast agent. Our approach is to use either peptide-modified iron oxide nanoparticles or peptide amphiphile micelles that have been altered with various dyes or contrast agents for use as imaging agents for MPI and MRI or NIS optical imaging. The targeting peptides that we use have been shown to bind to varying stages of atherosclerotic plaques and are the same targeting peptides that we are exploring for drug delivery applications as well. We have shown the ability to create each of the imaging agents described and are currently working to validate many of the methods described in an in vivo setting to determine the specificity of the contrast agents. Our goal is to be able to detect varying stages of atherosclerotic plaques and eventually to identify vulnerable plaques that require immediate attention.