GE HealthCare has concluded the enrolment of patients in Phase I of its early clinical development programme for a manganese-based macrocyclic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent.

Anticipated to be diagnostically similar to present gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs), the macrocyclic, extra-cellular and manganese-based contrast agent is claimed to help improve signal intensity during MRI scans.

Conducted at the Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, clinical research unit in Norway, the clinical study will assess the safety profile of the injectable manganese contrast agent, as well as how it is discarded from the body, in healthy volunteers.

For imaging efficacy, earlier manganese-based MRI agents were dependent on a ‘free manganese’ release mechanism, claimed the company.

The new investigational agent will firmly bind to the chelate in a macrocyclic cage-like structure, helping to quickly eliminate it from the body.

Generally, gadolinium-based MRI agents are used to improve the visualisation of abnormal structures or lesions and help differentiate between healthy and pathological tissue.

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However, the new manganese-based agent is expected to become a potential alternative, due to perceived concerns associated with gadolinium retention, and will help the company expand its MRI contrast agent portfolio to radiologists.

GE HealthCare pharmaceutical diagnostics unit’s global R&D head Dr Paul Evans said: “For many years we’ve been committed to investing in, and bringing to market, products to help solve some of radiology’s biggest challenges and unmet needs.

“This manganese-based MRI agent is one of a number of novel agents we have at various stages of development in our innovation pipeline, all of which aim to give practitioners more choice in delivering precision care for their patients.”