March 10, 2020

Today, the first publication resulting from work performed by the AlternativesToGd project was published.

The research article is titled “Increasing the sensitivity of hyperpolarized [15N2]urea detection by serial transfer of polarization to spin‐coupled protons“.

It has been published by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Hadassah Medical Organization in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and is published following open access guidelines.



Hyperpolarized 15N‐labeled molecules have been proposed as imaging agents for investigating tissue perfusion and pH. However, the sensitivity of direct 15N detection is limited by the isotope’s low gyromagnetic ratio. Sensitivity can be increased by transferring 15N hyperpolarization to spin‐coupled protons provided that there is not significant polarization loss during transfer. However, complete polarization transfer would limit the temporal window for imaging to the order of the proton T1 (2‐3 s). To exploit the long T1 offered by storing polarization in 15N and the higher sensitivity of 1H detection, we have developed a pulse sequence for partial polarization transfer.


A polarization transfer pulse sequence was modified to allow partial polarization transfer, as is required for dynamic measurements, and that can be implemented with inhomogeneous B1 fields, as is often the case in vivo. The sequence was demonstrated with dynamic spectroscopy and imaging measurements with [15N2]urea.


When compared to direct 15N detection, the sequence increased the signal‐to‐noise ratio (SNR) by a factor of 1.72 ± 0.25, where both experiments depleted ~20% of the hyperpolarization (>10‐fold when 100% of the hyperpolarization is used). Simulations with measured cross relaxation rates showed that this sequence gave up to a 50‐fold increase in urea proton polarization when compared to spontaneous polarization transfer via cross relaxation.


The sequence gave an SNR increase that was close to the theoretical limit and can give a significant SNR benefit when compared to direct 13C detection of hyperpolarized [13C]urea.

Link to publication