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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 4 (2013), Issue 1, Pages 23-46
Research Article

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Contrast Agents for Tumor Diagnosis

Weiren Cheng,1,2 Yuan Ping,1 Yong Zhang,2 Kai-Hsiang Chuang,3 and Ye Liu1

1Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
2Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
3Division of Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Received 1 August 2012; Accepted 1 November 2012

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This review focuses on MRI contrast agents for tumor diagnosis. Several types of low molecular weight Gd3+-based complexes and dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles have been used for clinical tumor diagnosis as longitudinal relaxation time (T1) and transverse relaxation time (T2) MRI contrast agents, respectively. To further improve the sensitivity of MRI, new types of chelates for T1 MRI contrast agents and combination of low molecular weight T1 MRI contrast agents with different types of carriers have been investigated. Different types of materials for forming secure coating layers of SPIO and novel superparamagnetic particles with higher relaxivity values have been explored. Various types of ligands were applied to improve the capability to target tumor for both T1 and T2 contrast agents. Furthermore, MRI contrast agents for detection of tumor metabolism were also pursued.