What determines the frequency of processing protons? Its local chemical environment, and in this story, we are going to witness a battle between aggressive tumor cells infiltrating normal cells. These two cell states represent a two distinct environments. To demonstrate this change on stage, I’ve considered the following:
In regard to music, the highly rhythmic vibrations from the mridangam (an Indian percussion instrument) will accompany the dancing proton residing in the normal cell, while slower rhythmic beats will be paired with the proton processing in the cancer cell. To dramatize this effect, I may bring in a violin.
For context, there are several key metabolites (or small molecules within brain tissue, and each metabolite has its own unique frequency that is sensitive to its immediate environment. Hence, protons belonging to different molecules will have a slightly different resonance frequency - due to individual differences in their typical chemical environment. And, if a change to this frequency is observed, that can be indicative of disease.
Thus, when you put a person in a MRI machine you can learn about the composition of the patient’s neural tissues through specified mechanisms. One of these mechanisms involves knowing that the MR signal is reflective of the number of spinning protons, so tissues with a greater number of protons will have a higher signal. So, what does this say about the signal of cancer tissues versus that of normal tissues?