Current liver research: a new method, using magnetic particles, enhances 3D visualization of liver tissue

09 June 2017

The imaging of organs plays a decisive role in clinical diagnostics. In order to improve the already existing methods, the scientific team around PD Dr. Harald Ittrich, head of the SFB 841 subproject Z1, was now able to develop an imaging system that uses magnetic nanoparticles (MPI) which are bound to iron ions for the visualization of cells.

Abbildung von der Leber mittels MRI und MPI
Picture of the abdomen and of the liver using Magnetic Particle Imaging; Source see publication below © Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine. Reproduced by permission of IOP Publishing. All rights reserved.

In the liver, the nanoparticles are selectively absorbed by specialized cells, the copper cells. By the use of contrast medium, the resolution and sharpness, of image reconstruction of an organ, can be increased. In the current study, the combination of magnetic nanoparticles and the contrast medium (ferucarbotran) has been shown to improve the imaging of the three-dimensional structure of liver tissue.

MPI can be used to visualize liver tumors and metastases. It shows promising potential to become a tool for the removal of liver carcinomas by heat (thermal tumor ablation)”, says Dr. Ittrich. The researcher not only sees the distribution of the nanoparticles in the liver and the tumors, but also the local temperature of tumor surrounding liver tissue. This becomes possible due to the fact that the dynamic properties of magnetic particles can be influenced by temperature.


Dieckhoff J, Kaul MG, Mummert T, Jung C, Salamon J, Adam G, Knopp T, Ludwig F, Balceris C, Ittrich H

In vivo liver visualizations with magnetic particle imaging based on the calibration measurement approach
Phys Med Biol. 2017 May 7;62(9):3470-3482. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aa562d. Epub 2016 Dec 30

Further information:

For further information have a look at the video in which the interesting projects of the group of Dr. Ittrich are explained:

SP1 in 60 SecondsVideoarchiv