Development of Non-invasive Advanced Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging Methods for in vivo tissue microstructure profiling

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Institute of Medical Sciences

Abstract

The proposed research aims to develop a novel, non-invasive, quantitative method for measuring tissue cellular dimensions and packing density in humans based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Tissue microstructure can be probed using diffusion MRI, where the Brownian motion of water and its interaction with the cellular boundaries are characterised.

In the project, the student will develop rapid q-space imaging method and validate the developed technique through multidisciplinary approaches. The proposed work is divided into three phases:

(1) basic sequence development of QSI, where the QSI sequence will be implemented on a research dedicated 3T whole body human scanner hosted at the Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre and basic acquisition parameters established; Validation will be performed on phantom, porcine specimen and young healthy volunteers.

(2) optimisation of QSI, during which the QSI acquisition strategies will be examined with the assistance of numerical simulation to reduce scan time, so that a data reduction strategy can be devised. Validation will be carried out in phantom, as well as in healthy young volunteers against biopsy results.

(3) sequence integration and application trial, where QSI with data reduction strategy will be assembled. Validation will be carried out on phantom and young healthy volunteers.

During this project, the student will receive research training in a range of biomedical areas. The student will be trained to perform MRI pulse sequence programming, a specialised skill. The student will conduct extensive numerical simulation and computer programming, a high value transferable skill. Above all, the knowledge acquired on advanced diffusion MRI is probably of the highest value in enhancing employability, since there is a global shortage of MRI physicists and advanced diffusion is one of the main areas on which faculty positions are generated. The student will also be a member of ABIC, and undertake our postgraduate generic training, including writing skills, journal club, method club and regularly presenting at lab meetings. We will encourage the student to undertake an industrial internship, and our industrial partner, Philips has expressed enthusiasm in relation to this.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M010996/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1654748 Studentship BB/M010996/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Nicholas Senn
 
Description The studentship research is ongoing. An advanced diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique (Q-space imaging) has been developed for probing tissue structural information in breast tumours, implementing the method on a human scanner system (objective 1). An ex vivo study has been completed (objective 2) to compare imaging measurements of tissue structure against measurements from existing imaging techniques and microscopy assessment of breast tumour cellularity (cell density). This studentship research has also developed a slide scanning microscopy analysis method to determine heterogeneity in tumour cellularity, to compare diffusion imaging measurements to underlying tissue structure. Intratumour heterogeneity obtained from diffusion imaging measurements were correlated to the underlying heterogeneity of tumour cellularity, for which the developed Q-space imaging technique had an increased measurement range compared to other diffusion imaging techniques. The knowledge and findings generated from this ex vivo research has informed development of the imaging technique for in vivo investigation of breast tumours, with a longitudinal study imaging patients with breast cancer to be completed during the studentship to assess the Q-space imaging technique for tissue structure measurements as an in vivo histology method (objective 3).
Exploitation Route The findings of this research will inform investigation of different disease mechanisms using the developed imaging technique. The imaging technique will be investigated as an in vivo histology method, to measure structural information from biological tissue. The imaging technique may be developed further in industry for clinical system applications.
Sectors Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description Information will be updated. This research has the aim to develop diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods applicable to human scanner, for investigation of tissue structural changes resulting from disease. At this stage in the studentship research, an advanced diffusion method has been developed for human scanner imaging of whole breast tumours, with an ex vivo study completed. This study has informed the translation of the diffusion technique for in vivo imaging of patients with breast cancer, for which a longitudinal study is currently being undertaken as part of this studentship. The aim of the longitudinal study is to investigate the value of the imaging technique for probing tumour tissue cellular changes resulting from treatment, as an in vivo histology imaging method. This research has the aim to ultimately inform healthcare and drug trial research through developing imaging methods sensitive to tissue structural changes and furthering understanding of disease mechanisms.
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Breast Unit Interdisciplinary Meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The studentship research has been presented at three interdisciplinary breast unit meetings at the NHS Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, informing medical practitioners of the research conducted locally. This also provides the avenue for interdisciplinary discussion of the current research being conducted in relation to medical applications. The studentship research will continue to be presented an these meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
 
Description Interactive Poster Display at the NHS Grampian Research and Development Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Research findings were presented to local NHS practitioners, local researchers and patient groups. Poster was presented, answering questions interactively.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Interactive Poster Display at the University of Aberdeen Cancer Rally Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The University of Aberdeen hosted the Cancer Rally Show event, for which the research team produced an interactive display of posters, electronic posters and table items to showcase the research undertaken to investigate breast cancer imaging techniques. The research undertaken was disseminated through interactive discussions with the public and patient groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Interactive display: Friends of Anchor 20th anniversary celebration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The local charity Friends of ANCHOR held a 20th Anniversary celebration event to showcase the research being undertaken and supported. The research team constructed an interactive table display to showcase the research we undertake to investigate breast cancer. As an interactive display the patients / general public at the event were able to inform the discussion of what research is being undertaken locally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Proffered Talk of Scientific Abstract at British Chapter - ISMRM 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific abstract talk was presented at the British Chapter ISMRM to research scientists, representatives from industry and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ismrm.org.uk
 
Description Proffered Talk of Scientific Abstract at European Conference - ESMRMB 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific abstract talk was presented at the European Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) to research scientists, representatives from industry and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.esmrmb.org
 
Description Proffered talk of Scientific Abstract at ISMRM 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Scientific abstract talk was presented at the ISMRM (Paris 2018) to research scientists, representatives from industry and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Proffered talk of Scientific Abstract at Scottish Imaging Conference - SINAPSE 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific abstract talk was presented at the Scottish Imaging Network 2017 conference (SINAPSE) to research scientists, representatives from industry and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sinapse.ac.uk