A step to accelerated preclinical studies using fumarate as a biomarker

We demonstrate a cheap and scalable way to form the biomolecule fumarate (a type of chemical compound) from an enriched form of hydrogen gas, which opens a door to studying metabolism and cell death in vivo via magnetic resonance imaging.

The research has been featured in a JACS Spotlight: Hyperpolarized Hydrogen Empowers a New Biomarker

Article URL: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jacs.9b10094

Citation: Eills, J.; Cavallari, E.; Carla, C.; Budker, D.; Aime, S.; Reineri, F.; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 51, 20209-20214

A short Q&A with the author James Eills:

Q: How was the idea for the project conceived?

A: This project has been a long-term dream of mine since working with the biomolecule fumarate during my PhD. Back then I was using an alternative method to produce hyperpolarized fumarate for an entirely different purpose, and in separate projects I was working with parahydrogen-induced hyperpolarization. To have combined those two avenues of research is a gratifying conclusion to a few years of work.

Q: Where were the experiments performed, and how long did they take? 

A: This work was performed in Torino in the lab of Dr Francesca Reineri and Prof. Silvio Aime. The experiments took about 5 days, which was a feat only possible thanks to the eye-watering work rate of my collaborators Dr Eleonora Cavallari and Dr Carla Carrera!

Q: Personally, what was the most difficult part of the project? 

A: Leaving Torino and returning to Germany.

Q: What comes next?

A: These exciting results have ignited interest in our field, and in the next days I will be heading to UC Berkeley to work on applying this technique in animal imaging studies. I will be working with my collaborator Dr Danila Barskiy in the lab of Prof. Alex Pines, along with 5 other postdocs from Europe who will join for this ambitious and compelling endeavour!

Parahydrogen gas is reacted with a precursor molecule to produce fumarate, and the polarization is transferred to the 13C spin. We observe metabolism of the fumarate in cell suspensions via 13C NMR.  
Updated: January 9, 2020 — 10:12 am