Gadolinium-Lipid Nanoparticles for More Effective and Safe Medical Diagnosis with MRI


To test the safety and pharmacology of a novel MRI contrast agent

Anticipated Impact: 

A safer MRI contrast agent with improved imaging characteristics


Approximately 65% of all magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures use chemical agents to enhance contrast to deliver a better image. MRI contrast agents, notably gadolinium-containing formulations, deliver modest image resolution and are associated with serious safety concerns. Gadolinium is associated with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, which can be especially severe in patients with renal failure. Currently, all gadolinium contrast agents carry an FDA 'black box' warning in the product labels. Dr. Ho's research team has developed a gadolinium-containing lipid nanoparticle carrier (Gd-LNC) that shows improved image contrast at gadolinium concentrations that are much lower than those presently used. Gd-LNC offers the prospect of improved safety and use in patients with kidney disease. LSDF’s grant supported Gd-LNC pharmacokinetic and preliminary safety studies to compare this new agent with the existing MRI contrast products. To maintain the momentum of positive results and nascent collaborations, a supplement of $150,000 was granted to extend the work. Animal model studies of Gd-LNC biodistribution, imaging properties, and basic toxicology under different conditions will be performed and compared to Ablavar, the current “gold standard” for MRI contrast agents. Nova TheraNostics, a Seattle start-up company, will participate in the work.

Collaborating organization: Nova TheraNostics

Safer MRI Contrast Agent

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Rodney Ho
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Gadolinium-Lipid Nanoparticles for More Effective and Safe Medical Diagnosis with MRI
Grant Cohort and Year:
2010 First Round Commercialization (03)
Grant Period:
01/01/2011 - 12/31/2014 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
We have made progress on our project milestones funded by LSDF, including successful completion of large animal studies and crucial guidance from our expert panel of esteemed radiologists. We have completed work with potential manufacturers and tested their sample starting materials and have recently validated scale-up procedures for making the contrast agent for several doses tested in pigs that are equivalent to human body weight (~80kg). These processes are suitable for transferring to contract manufacturing facilities to produce products for clinical trials. Finally, we have gathered preliminary data required to characterize and write specifications for the final product to be used in preclinical and clinical testing. All of these accomplishments enable development a most promising commercial path to seek private investments for clinical development.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Safer MRI Contrast Agent

Jul 30, 2013
University of Washington Center for Commercialization
Mar 29, 2013
University of Washington Center for Commercialization