New scanning technology aims to achieve quicker diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

Groundbreaking research taking place at the University of York could lead to Alzheimer's disease being diagnosed in minutes using a simple brain scan.

Scientists are working on new technology that could revolutionise the way in which (MRI) scans are used to view the molecular events behind diseases like Alzheimer's, without invasive procedure, by increasing the sensitivity of an average hospital scanner by 200,000 times.

The technology underpinning this project, SABRE (Signal Amplification by Reversible Exchange), has received a £3.6m Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust to fund a team of seven post-doctoral researchers from this month.

The new grant brings the total support for SABRE from the Wellcome Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, Bruker Biospin, the University of York and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to over £12.5m in the last three years.

A new Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance (CHyM) is being purpose-built at York to house the project. The building, which is nearing completion at York Science Park, includes a chemical laboratory, four high field systems and space for 30 .

The SABRE project is led by Professor Simon Duckett, from the Department of Chemistry at York, Professor Gary Green, from the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC) and Professor Hugh Perry, from the Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton.

Professor Duckett said: "While MRI has completely changed modern healthcare, its value is greatly limited by its low sensitivity. As well as tailoring treatments more accurately to the needs of individual patients, our hope is that in the future doctors will be able to accurately make diagnoses that currently take days, weeks and sometimes months, in just minutes."

Professor Green added: "SABRE has the potential to revolutionise clinical MRI and related MR methods by providing a huge improvement in the sensitivity of scanners. This will ultimately produce a step change in the use and type of information available to scientists and clinicians through MRI, allowing the diagnosis, treatment and clinical monitoring of diverse neurodegenerative diseases."

The Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance will be officially opened by Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust, in September 2013.

The Centre brings together scientists from a range of backgrounds including Chemistry, Psychology, Biology and the Hull York Medical School. Recent appointments include British neuroscientist Professor Miles Whittington and Dr Heidi Baseler, a lecturer in specialist medical imaging from the USA. Professor Jüergen Hennig of the University Hospital Freiburg, one of the world's leading experts in the medical application of MRI technology, is also associated with the Centre.

The Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance was created to build on an exciting breakthrough in the use of hyperpolarisation in MRI by scientists from the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNIC) and the York Magnetic Resonance Centre (YMRC).

Hyperpolarisation involves the transfer of magnetism from parahydrogen to molecules making them more visible in MRI scans. The Centre's SABRE programme will develop the chemical basis of this method to make it suitable for medical applications.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New magnetic resonance imaging technology developed

Jul 01, 2010

The development of a new magnetic resonance imaging technology that could revolutionise the way medical conditions are diagnosed and treated is to take a major step forward as a £7m research centre is established at the ...

Transforming medical diagnosis with new scanning technology

Mar 26, 2009

A new technology which dramatically improves the sensitivity of Magnetic Resonance techniques including those used in hospital scanners and chemistry laboratories has been developed by scientists at the University of York.

A new scan for lung diseases

Oct 13, 2009

People with chronic lung disease and asthma could soon be offered better treatment thanks to a new type of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan being pioneered at The University of Nottingham.

FDA clears Siemens' 2-in-1 medical scanner

Jun 10, 2011

(AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says it has cleared the first medical imaging device to simultaneously perform two powerful scans used to diagnose a wide variety of diseases and ailments.

Spider's double beating heart revealed by MRI

Jul 01, 2011

Researchers have used a specialised Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner on tarantulas for the first time, giving unprecedented videos of a tarantula's heart beating.

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Birger
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
"increasing the sensitivity of an average hospital scanner by 200,000 times"
How are they supposed to achieve this?

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
Carl Sagan