The University of Aberdeen researchers are developing a new generation magnetic resonance imaging technology called Field-Cycling MRI:
The new scanner will make visible features not currently seen in conventional MRI. This improved sensitivity and specificity should lead to a better understanding of key diseases, result in more rapid and accurate diagnosis, and eventually pave the way for new treatments.
Professor Lurie, Chair in Biomedical Physics, University of Aberdeen, said: “We are tremendously excited about the potential for this scanner which uses new technology called Fast Field-Cycling MRI.
“We believe it has the potential to gain new insight into processes that give rise to disease, involving the complex interactions of atoms, molecules and cells in the body. Fast Field-Cycling MRI promises to be even more sensitive than conventional MRI at picking up these disease processes.
“This technology breaks the first rule of conventional MRI which is that the magnetic field is held constant while the image is being obtained.
“What we will do with our new scanner is to switch the magnetic field rapidly while the image is being obtained. In this way, we will be able to record information about how molecules behave at a whole range of magnetic fields.
“It is a bit like having at our disposal a hundred or more MRI scanners, each one operating at a different magnetic field – but all in the one scanner. The big advantage is that the new scanner will produce images of the body that will tell clinicians important information about disease processes at a much earlier stage.
“One area of research that will benefit in particular is the role of proteins in diseases. The malformation and malfunctioning of proteins is at the core of many diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Aberdeen University’s Institute of Medical Sciences has world-leading research teams in all of these areas, and the lead scientists are closely involved with the new MRI research.
“A clearer vision of the protein changes that occur in such disorders could lead not only to a better understanding of the disease process itself, but to more rapid and accurate diagnosis and eventually new treatments.”