GE‘s spinoff Research Circle Technology, that was launched in 2011, is releasing its first product, the SPINlab hyperpolarizing system. Not a medical device in itself, the MRI system is designed for use in research studies for rapid visualization of metabolism at the cellular level.
Previously, a system with similar capabilities required a clean room, lots of helium, and a number of trained staff to operate. The SPINlab system integrates a dedicated fluid path, quality control, and the ability to hyperpolarize a number of samples at the same time.
Metabolic imaging is still a new technology, but GE has profiled a couple of research projects to have taken advantage of it in the news announcement:
- University of California – San Francisco’s (UCSF) Surbeck Laboratory for Advanced Imaging completed a 31-patient study performed by scientists at UCSF and their collaborators. “We now have a safe dose for patients – that was our primary goal,” said Sarah J. Nelson, PhD, a UCSF professor of radiology and director of the Surbeck Laboratory of Advanced Imaging at UCSF, who was lead author on the study and led a diverse team on this project. These findings appeared online in the August 14, 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
- Scientists at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute have developed a technique to show the effectiveness of cancer treatment weeks earlier than current methods through metabolic imaging. “We think this technique may be able to guide therapy,” said lead research professor Kevin Brindle. “We are hoping that it will lead to patients not having to take drugs that will not work for them. There are treatment choices – some people respond really well to one treatment, and others don’t. The standard method for assessing whether a treatment has worked is for a patient to take a course of treatment and then determine whether the tumour has shrunk or not. This new technique could allow doctors to tell much more quickly whether a treatment is working.