Firms pursue MRI heart contrast

GE Medical Systems, Epix Medical, and Mallinckrodt have begun a collaboration to advance the development of contrast agents for MR imaging of the heart. The companies hope to expand the use of MRI for diagnosing coronary artery disease, and will also

GE Medical Systems, Epix Medical, and Mallinckrodt have begun a collaboration to advance the development of contrast agents for MR imaging of the heart. The companies hope to expand the use of MRI for diagnosing coronary artery disease, and will also focus on using MRI to diagnose peripheral vascular disease.

The use of MRI in the heart has been limited by the organ's rapid movement, which produces motion artifacts on MRI images. Under the nonexclusive partnership, GE, Epix, and Mallinckrodt hope to reduce the effect of cardiac motion on MRI images, develop software for 3-D visualization of arteries and veins, and optimize MRI sequences for intravascular MRI agents.

Epix of Cambridge, MA, is developing MS-325, a contrast agent for MR angiography that has been licensed to St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt. Research on the project will be conducted at Epix's headquarters, as well as at GE's corporate research facility in Schenectady, NY; GEMS headquarters in Milwaukee; the National Institutes of Health; and several academic centers.