Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been vastly used in medical diagnoses of many diseases. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2016, 12% of the population in the United States have received an MRI (i.e ~ 38 million MRI scans) among which approximately 70% of those (i.e ~ 27 million) were performed using magnetic contrast agents (CAs) such as Gadolinium (Gd)-based CAs. However, there is a growing concern over the toxicity of Gd-based CAs, with even more concern when scans are administered to children. Health risks due to the depositions of chelated Gd include fatal diseases such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Recently, health professionals are either banned from the use of Gd or advised to use it at minimal levels, which yields low-contrast images. 

This invention addresses the need for effective and less toxic MRI-imaging. 

Technology Overview

Researchers at Northeastern addressed the toxicity issue of current CAs by introducing Manganese (Mn)-based CA derived from superparamagnetic Mn-ferrite nanoparticles. They enhanced the production of superparamagnetic Mn-ferrite nanoparticles in several steps. These steps include the processing and chelation of nanoparticles as well as the monitoring and tailoring the distribution of cations within the ferrite unit cell using extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS). The optimized superparamagnetic Mn-ferrite nanoparticles can be used in magnetohyperthermia therapy in addition to MRI. Low toxicity of Mn-ferrite nanoparticles allows the use of higher dosages that leads to higher imaging contrasts. 

This CA can be conjugated with certain receptors to enhance the specificity of imaging and therapy. 


  • Lowered toxicity
  • Higher imaging contrasts 
  • Targeted imaging and Therapy
  • MFONPs can be made with appropriate diameter, size distribution, and shape necessary for images and MHT applications without detrimental declustering 


  • MRI
  • Cancer therapy 


  • License
  • Partnering
  • Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Parisa Andalib
John Scudiere
Vincent Harris
manganese ferrite
MRI contrast agent
superparamagnetic nanoparticles