MRC funds new MRI-PET scanner for Imanova/Imperial collaboration to expand Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) clinical infrastructure

In collaboration with Imperial, Imanova, the world-leading centre for imaging sciences, today announced that they will install a state-of-the-art MRI-PET scanner at their London facility from a MRC Grant for DPUK. The installation marks the start of a concerted effort across seven UK clinical academic research sites to bring benefits of this new technology to doctors studying dementia and to their patients.

Kevin Cox, CEO of Imanova, said: “The new scanner will have the potential to increase understanding of the causes and progression of the disease, as well as providing a new way of evaluating the effects of new treatments.  Researchers at Imperial and from other institutes in the DPUK network will be using this advanced technology to develop an innovative new tool to investigate the brain. The MRI-PET scanner is still a very new technology so part of our work at Imanova will be optimising the scanner and developing the technology with a focus on dementia. By using MRI-PET scanners in a co-ordinated and harmonised way across institutes, we will all contribute massively to understanding and potentially treating dementia.”” 

The technology combines scans from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Electron Tomography (PET). MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to deliver images that show the structure and anatomy of the brain. PET scans trace small doses of radioactive chemicals that have been injected into the body, to reveal changes in blood flow and oxygen use and changes at a cellular level to provide data on how the brain is functioning. By combining these assessments of form (MRI) and function (PET), the new scanner will be able to provide a real-time comprehensive diagnostic picture in one scan. 

 “We still don’t really understand the disease and this is why there are currently no viable treatments,” said Professor Paul Matthews, chair of the DPUK Imaging Network and Edmond and Lily Safra Chair in Translational Neuroscience and Therapeutics at Imperial College London. “It is increasingly recognised that the key to future treatments for dementia is identifying the early risk factors and biomarkers - and this can only be done by studying large samples before the onset of dementia. This relies heavily on data from scans. 

The MRC DPUK is a public-private partnership that brings together top academic knowledge and cutting-edge technologies to pool data and expertise to improve dementia research. Alongside Imperial, the other recipients are the University of Edinburgh, Manchester University, the University of Cambridge and Newcastle University. Cardiff University has been awarded funding for a new MRI scanner. These six institutions make up the DPUK Imaging Network, which will use new technology to support experimental medicine and clinical trials in dementia research.

For more information on the DPUK 

Professor Paul Matthews will giving his inaugural lecture as the Edmond and Lily Safra Chair in Translational Neuroscience and Therapeutics entitled ‘Brain health: it takes more than pills and potions’ on 20 November 2014 at 18.00. For more information and to register for the event 

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