A multifunctional nanoparticle that facilitates magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to pinpoint the life-threatening blood vessel plaques caused by atherosclerosis. The technology is a step toward creating a non-invasive method for seeing the structural problems that can cause ruptures and subsequent heart attack or stroke. Nicole Steinmetz of Case Western Reserve University turned to the well-known tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) to help them construct rod-shaped nanoparticles engineered from the virus. The viral capsule without its genetic material acts as the perfect biocompatible host for transporting an MRI contrast agent into the blood vessels to be scanned without the need for large quantities of the agent nor surgical catheterization.