Polymeric PARACEST MRI contrast agents as potential reporters for gene therapy

Yunkou Wu, Christiane E. Carney, Michael Denton, Elaine Hart, Piyu Zhao, Daniel N. Streblow, A. Dean Sherry, Mark Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Gene therapy is a potentially powerful treatment approach that targets molecular remedies for disease. Among other challenges it remains difficult to monitor gene delivery and its downstream metabolic consequences. Approaches to MRI gene reporters have been reported but few have the potential for translation beyond isolated cell systems. Herein, we report a polycationic polymer MRI contrast agent that binds to DNA in a ratio of one monomer unit per phosphate group of DNA. Significantly, this binding event diminishes the MR contrast signal from the agent itself potentially providing a platform for imaging delivery and release of a gene into cells and tissues. Importantly, we demonstrate here the proof of concept that a positively charged polymeric contrast agent can also act as a transfection agent, delivering the gene for encoding green fluorescent protein into cells. These observations provide support for the radical, new idea of creating a combined transfection/imaging agent for monitoring gene delivery in real time by MRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5333-5338
Number of pages6
JournalOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 7 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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