Balaji Sitharaman, assistant professor at Stony Brook University and president...

Balaji Sitharaman, assistant professor at Stony Brook University and president of Theragnostic Technologies Inc. Credit: Handout

Scientists from Stony Brook University have developed an experimental dye for MRI scans that they hope will produce sharper images without damaging patients’ kidneys.

Their finding, detailed today in the medical journal PLoS ONE, involves using a form of carbon called graphene to make contrasting dye, which is used in roughly 40 percent of MRIs. The substance is currently made with gadolinium, a metallic element linked to harmful side effects, prompting the Federal Drug Administration to recommend limiting its use.

By substituting less-toxic graphene, the Stony Brook team found their dye could produce higher-contrast images than when using gadolinium. “You can achieve the same image at a lower dose,” said Balaji Sitharaman, an assistant professor in Stony Brook’s biomedical engineering department.

Sitharaman and his team plan to test the substance through Theragnostic Technologies Inc., a biotech company launched in February, hoping it will be approved for use by 2017.

Pictured: Balaji Sitharaman, assistant professor at Stony Brook University and president of Theragnostic Technologies Inc.

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