Undergraduate chemistry research, Organic synthesis, magnetic resonance contrast agent, MRI, dopamine, imine formation
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic methodology used to provide a two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord. Magnetic resonance contrast agents are usually injected into necessary parts of the body prior to imaging to increase the differences between different tissues or between normal and abnormal tissue, making it easier for a radiologist or doctor to interpret the image that is taken. The development of new and more efficient, effective, and selective contrast agents for various biological processes or chemicals is a growing field of research and study. My project allowed me to engage in undergraduate chemistry research in an academic setting under the supervision of an organic chemistry professor, Dr. DeBoef. He designed a molecule that will be developed further to be a magnetic resonance contrast agent, also referred to as an MRI probe. Reactions were carried out that were the beginning steps of the multi-step synthesis, or recipe, if you will, to make the target molecule which also binds gadolinium, making it MRI active (Figure 1). The entire multi-step synthesis is not included in this paper. The purpose of his design is for the molecule to selectively bind dopamine (Figure 2), a neurotransmitter that has been found to be associated with Parkinson’s Disease in humans. His molecule’s design is based on existing contrast agent structures published in chemical literature but is a new molecule after changes and additions were made. It can be years later before it will be tested for use in MRI as a contrast agent that is safe for use in humans.