Medical Imaging

A clearer view of type 1 diabetes

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1110-1111
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6226.1110-d

Nanoparticles help to visualize pancreatic inflammation in people with type 1 diabetes

PHOTO: J. L. GAGLIA ET AL., PNAS 112, 7 (17 FEBRUARY 2015) © NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Pancreatic beta cells keep blood glucose levels in check by secreting insulin, which removes glucose from blood. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells stop functioning because the immune system destroys them. Noninvasive imaging of pancreatic inflammation—an early sign of this immune attack—could provide scientists with new insights into how the disease begins and progresses. In a pilot study, Gaglia et al. used magnetic resonance imaging to generate three-dimensional high-resolution maps of pancreatic inflammation in patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes. Key to their success was an imaging agent called ferumoxytol, a clinically approved magnetic nanoparticle taken up by macrophages.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 2139 (2015).

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