Dr. Lloyd Kumata/ UT Southwestern
In vitro and in vivo nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and imaging (MRI) of nuclei other than proton is limited by the inherently low sensitivity emanating from the minute differences in spin populations between the Boltzmann nuclear energy levels. Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) or hyperpolarization, an offshoot of a particle physics technology, has recently solved this insensitivity problem by amplifying the magnetic resonance signals of insensitive nuclei such as 13C and 15N by 10,000-fold or higher. The trick is to transfer the high electron thermal polarization to the nuclear spins via microwave irradiation at low temperature (close to 1 K) and high magnetic field (> 1 T), then rapidly dissolve the frozen polarized samples into hyperpolarized liquids at physiologically tolerable temperature.
In this talk, I will delve into the discussion of the physics, instrumentation and engineering aspects, optimization methods, and biomedical applications of the DNP technology. This cutting-edge physics technology is currently revolutionizing cancer diagnostics by providing biological and metabolic information at the molecular level with superb sensitivity.