Fast Field-Cycling Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Biomedical Physics and Bioengineering

Abstract

This Basic Technology will literally represent a step-change in the way in which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is implemented, resulting in new, information-rich contrast mechanisms becoming available for the first time. The proposed work is cross-disciplinary, bringing together physicists/engineers, chemists, biologists and medical scientists. We will break the first law of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - that the applied magnetic field must be held constant during image acquisition. By doing so we will gain access to radically new types of image contrast, with the potential to gain insight into disease processes at the molecular level. This new Basic Technology is called Fast Field-Cycled MRI (FFC-MRI).Since its inception in the 1970s, enormous advances have been made in every aspect of MRI, including hardware, techniques and applications. There has been a trend towards developing and using MRI at ever-increasing magnetic fields: 1.5 tesla MRI systems are now the norm, and whole-body systems up to 7 tesla are being installed in research centres. Existing MRI systems operate at one, and only one magnetic field strength, and the normal imaging process demands that the magnetic field be absolutely stable over time. The very fact that the field is fixed, however, denies access to a truly fundamental contrast mechanism, namely the dependence of the sample's (or patient's) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation times on the applied magnetic field. (In MRI, it is differences in the relaxation times that provide contrast between tissue types, and between normal and diseased tissue.) Any conventional MRI system can only provide information about the sample's relaxation times at one, fixed, magnetic field. In FFC-MRI the scanner's magnet will be switched rapidly (hence the Fast in FFC-MRI) between levels during the collection of an image, allowing the NMR-sensitive nuclei to evolve at the chosen magnetic field (or at a range of field values). The magnetic field will always be returned to a fixed magnetic field, however, in order to read out the NMR signals. In this way, the image contrast (arising from relaxation time differences) will be that appropriate to the chosen field, rather than to the readout magnetic field.By obtaining FFC-MR images at a range of switched fields, it will be possible to optimise the endogenous contrast contained in the variation of relaxation times with magnetic field strength - something that is completely hidden from normal, fixed-field MRI, no matter what that field strength is. Another contrast mechanism that is accessible to FFC-MRI (but inaccessible to standard MRI) is an effect called the quadrupole-dip , which provides quantitative information related specifically to protein concentration and dynamics. The ubiquity of proteins in the body, and their role in disease, makes the latter particularly attractive.FFC-MRI also offers radically new possibilities for exogenous contrast, via injected contrast agents. Another vital unifying strand of the new Basic Technology is the design of contrast agents that are precisely tailored for the new FFC-MRI instruments, in order to improve sensitivity and specificity by at least an order of magnitude compared to conventional contrast-enhanced MRI. The improved sensitivity and specificity will enable molecular imaging applications to be developed.In order to develop the basic technology of FFC-MRI, we will work closely with our Collaborators in the areas of magnets, MRI control systems and contrast agents. So that we can demonstrate the utility of FFC-MRI, we will explore applications that are likely to benefit from the method, from basic bio-medical science through sports science to potential clinical applications, as well as other areas, including the food industry. This proposal will create the potential to revolutionise the way that MRI is carried out, in the bio-medical research laboratory, in the clinic, and elsewhere.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The advantage of Fast Field-Cycling (FFC) MRI over conventional MRI is its ability to make measurements and collect images over a wide range of magnetic field strengths, whereas standard MRI scanners are fixed at a single value of magnetic field. FFC-MRI can measure the variation of a sample's T1 relaxation time as a function of magnetic field, using a method called relaxometry. The T1 dispersion plots produced provide information on the behaviour of samples or tissues at the molecular level, and are sensitive to changes in the concentration and motion of proteins, making FFC a potential detector and monitor of disease. The project involved four main aspects: development of the technology of FFC-MRI scanners; development of methods of FFC-MRI and associated software; development of contrast agents for FFC-MRI; studies of applications of FFC-MRI. Two FFC-MRI scanners were designed and built: firstly, a small-scale scanner (15 cm internal bore) was constructed. It used a single-magnet design and cycled up to 0.5 T with a field switching time of 15 ms. Results indicated the necessity to control precisely the electric current and the magnet's temperature. A human-scale FFC-MRI system was built, with a specification of detecting signals at up to 0.2 T with a switch time of 20 ms. Attention was paid to precise current monitoring and control, and a different design of magnet power supply was used. As an alternative to large-magnet FFC, a prototype small-scale field-offset coil was built. The 38 cm diameter "pancake" coil was designed to enable localised FFC-MRI as an add-on for vertical-field MRI scanners. Tests using a 59 mT whole-body MRI scanner were successful.Methods for collecting and analysing data collected using FFC were developed. Mathematical and computer models of the imaging process were constructed, and used to improve the accuracy of T1 dispersion data measured using FFC-MRI and relaxometry measurements. Contrast agents for use with FFC-MRI should exhibit significantly different relaxivity (efficiency) over the range of magnetic fields accessible by FFC-MRI. In that way, scans can be collected at field strengths where the effect of the contrast agent is (i) low and (ii) high, giving an increase in sensitivity. A number of potential contrast agents were studied, each with different relaxivity profiles. The optimum system was composed of liposomes (artificially prepared microscopic lipid vesicles) filled with manganese chloride. This agent exhibited 50% greater relaxivity at 1 mT than at 90 mT, making it ideal for use with FFC-MRI. Experiments on test objects demonstrated the expected improvement in sensitivity over a conventional MRI contrast agent.Applications of FFC-MRI and relaxometry that we explored relied on the particular form of T1 dispersion curves observable in samples (or tissues) containing immobile protein. These exhibit distinct dips at magnetic fields of 49 and 65 mT which are sensitive to protein concentration and motion. We studied this effect in a test-tube model of thrombosis and found that thrombus (blood clot) formation could be detected by relaxometry measurements. We also examined human hip and knee joints which had been removed from patients undergoing joint-replacement. The presence of osteoarthritis affected the relaxometry or FFC-MRI signal to a significant extent, meaning that this is a potential method of diagnosing this condition. Parkinson's disease (PD) involves the formation of protein tangles in cells within the brain. As a first step towards determining if PD is detectable using FFC-MRI, we developed methods to purify the protein alpha-synuclein, prior to measuring its T1 dispersion. Studies on volunteers showed that FFC could detect exercise-related changes in muscle. Non-medical applications of FFC were also explored, including studies of foodstuffs to attempt to detect counterfeit products, and to determine whether prior freeze-thaw cycles could be detected.
Exploitation Route The findings could be used by medical imaging companies intending to develop diagnostic products based on FFC-MRI. Researchers could employ our findings in order to explore the effects of disease on tissues and organs. Hospitals could use FFC-MRI scanners for improved diagnosis. Pharmaceutical companies might employ our findings in order to test the effectiveness of potential therapeutic agents.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://www.ffc-mri.org/publications.html
 
Description The work carried out under this award has led to significant awareness of the new field of Fast Field-Cycling MRI and its potential for the enhanced and earlier diagnosis of disease. The preparatory work carried out during this award was instrumental in putting together a multidisciplinary consortium of researchers, led by the University of Aberdeen, which succeeded in obtaining funding from the EU for a Horizon 2020 research project on FFC-MRI, aimed at taking the technology close to clinical use. The consortium includes 7 academic teams and two SMEs.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Arthritis Research UK Project Grant
Amount £190,832 (GBP)
Funding ID 19689 
Organisation Versus Arthritis 
Start 11/2011 
End 11/2013
 
Description European Union Horizon 2020
Amount € 6,597,377 (EUR)
Funding ID 668119 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019
 
Description Magnetic Resonance Techniques for Explosives Detection
Amount £36,738 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLX1000109854 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 03/2017
 
Description Magnetic Resonance Techniques for Explosives Detection
Amount £33,997 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLX1000121990 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 04/2018
 
Description Sensitivity Enhancement Techniques for Magnetic Resonance
Amount £126,202 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTL/AGR/00316/01 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2015 
End 12/2015
 
Description Sensitivity Enhancement Techniques for Magnetic Resonance
Amount £63,054 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLX-R86177 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 06/2014
 
Title Pilot study for the determination of FFC NMR biomarkers of osteoarthritis in human cartilage 
Description The dataset contains anonymised data from the analysis of human cartilage by FFC NMR, together with several analyses of the data. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Impact information pending 
URL http://pure.abdn.ac.uk:8080/portal/en/datasets/pilot-study-for-the-determination-of-ffc-nmr-biomarke...
 
Description Cambridge Chemical Engineering collaboration 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Field-cycling NMR relaxometry measurements
Collaborator Contribution Provision of samples and data analysis
Impact Published paper in peer-reviewed journal: Mitchell J., Broche L.M., Chandrasekera T.C., Lurie D.J. and Gladden L.F. "Exploring Surface Interactions in Catalysts using Low Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance", J. Phys. Chem. C, 117, 17699-17706 (2013).
Start Year 2011
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation CEA-Leti
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation International Electric Company Ltd
Country Finland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM)
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation Stelar s.r.l.
Country Italy 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation Technical University Ilmenau
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation University of Grenoble
Department Grenoble Electrical Engineering laboratory
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation University of Turin
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Multi-partner collaboration on Aberdeen-led H2020 project, "IDentIFY" 
Organisation University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn
Country Poland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research, which led to the joint preparation, and subsequent award, of a multi-partner EU Horizon 2020 grant (Project "IDentIFY", "Enhancing Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI", Grant Agreement 668119, EUR 6.60m, 48 months from January 2016, led by the University of Aberdeen (Lurie)). The collaboration has involved research visits and short-term exchanges of personnel between laboratories, as well as scientific meetings.
Impact A number of conference abstracts have been published.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Aberdeen University May Festival public lecture on "The Hidden World of MRI" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture given by David Lurie, as part of the annual May Festival at the University of Aberdeen. The lecture was entitled "The Hidden World of MRI".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.identify-project.eu/public-engagement/may-festival-aberdeen-2017/
 
Description Cafe Scientifique public lecture on "MRI scanning: a magnetic window to the body" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture given by David Lurie, in the "Cafe Scientifique" series. Lecture was at Waterstone's bookshop in Aberdeen city centre. In addition to the audience of approximately 100 people, the event was streamed live on the Aberdeen Cafe Scientifique Facebook page; this has been viewed over 400 times. The title of the talk was "MRI scanning: a magnetic window to the body".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.facebook.com/CafeScientifiqueAberdeenCity/videos/1714259268646482/
 
Description Exhibit on FFC-MRI at European Researchers' Night event (Sept 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact David Lurie and James Ross manned an interactive exhibit at Aberdeen Science Centre, as part of "Explorathon" during European Researchers' Night (29th September 2017). The exhibit included posters on MRI and FFC-MRI as well as models and small equipment to demonstrate the principles of MRI.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.identify-project.eu/public-engagement/european-researchers-night-aberdeen/
 
Description Live interview on Radio Scotland's "Good Morning Scotland" programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact David Lurie was interviewed live, "on-air", about the Fast Field-Cycling MRI researchproject and the fact that the first patients were being scanned by the prototype scanner at Aberdeen University. The interview went out at approximately 6:45am on 21st November 2017. There was also an item on the BBC News web site.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-42054305
 
Description Press release: "First-ever patients scanned by new generation MRI scanner" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The University of Aberdeen issued a press release on 21st November 2017, to mark the first patients being scanned by Fast Field-Cycling MRI. The press release included quotes from Prof. David Lurie (team leader) and from Dr. Mary Joan MacLeod, stroke consultant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/11333/
 
Description Television news item (STV) about Fast Field-Cycling MRI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Piece on first patient studies using Fast Field-Cycling MRI research at Aberdeen University, aired on STV television news programme on 21st November 2017. Included an interview with David Lurie and with one of the patients who had been scanned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.abdn.ac.uk/research/ffc-mri/publicity/