The chelator pill, a medication that was developed to rid the body of radioactive elements, has a 96 percent efficacy rate at preventing gadolinium from depositing in bodies of patients who have just undergone MRI, according to researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCA) are used in around a third of all MRI procedures. They’ve been a controversial topic in recent years, and traces of the agent can remain in the brain for years after screenings. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required healthcare providers to issue a GBCA Medication Guide to patients and has demanded manufacturers to conduct more in-depth tests on possible side effects. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also taken action to limit the use of gadolinium.

However, there might now be a way to benefit from GBCAs while eliminating their potential toxicity. Chemist Rebecca Abergel and her team have found that the hydroxpyridinone ligand, or HOPO chelator can rid the body of lethal radioactive chemical elements such as plutonium and lanthanides such as gadolinium.

In their 2018 study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports online, Abergel and her team reported that HOPO chelator did a better job removing gadolinium deposits than traditional chelators such as diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid, or DTPA. “We also found that if we give the drug right before or right after the MRI, we can prevent up to 96% of the gadolinium from depositing,” said Abergel in a statement.

After securing support from the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is now looking for additional funding in order to conduct their first clinical safety study.