Major Breakthrough in New MRI Scan Technology for Lung Disease

New scanning technology which will give a much clearer picture of lung disease has taken a major step forward thanks to scientists at The University of Nottingham. The experts at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre have developed a process using specially treated krypton gas as an inhalable contrast agent to make the spaces inside the lungs show up on an Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. It's hoped the new process will eventually allow doctors to virtually see inside the lungs of patients.

Traditional magnetic resonance imaging uses hydrogen protons in the body as molecular targets to give a picture of tissue but this does not give a detailed picture of the lungs because they are full of air. Recent technological developments have led to a novel imaging methodology called Inhaled Hyperpolarised Gas MRI that uses lasers to 'hyperpolarise' a noble (inert) gas which aligns (polarises) the nuclei of the gas so it shows up on an MRI scan.

The work will make 3D imaging using 'atomic spies' like helium, xenon, or krypton possible in a single breath hold by the patient. Nottingham has pioneered hyperpolarized krypton MRI and is currently advancing this technology towards the clinical approval processes.

Hyperpolarised MRI research has been trying to overcome a problem with these noble gases retaining their hyperpolarised state for long enough for the gas to be inhaled, held in the lungs and scanned. Now in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nottingham team has developed a new technique to generate hyperpolarised krypton gas at high purity, a step that will significantly facilitate the use of this new contrast agent for pulmonary MRI.

Chair in Translational Imaging at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, Professor Thomas Meersmann, said: "It is particularly demanding to retain the hyperpolarized state of krypton during preparation of this contrast agent. We have solved a problem by using a process that is usually associated with clean energy related sciences. It's called catalytic hydrogen combustion. To hyperpolarise the krypton-83 gas we diluted it in molecular hydrogen gas for the laser pumping process. After successful laser treatment the hydrogen gas is mixed with molecular oxygen and literally exploded it away in a safe and controlled fashion through a catalysed combustion reaction.

"Remarkably, the hyperpolarized state of krypton-83 'survives' the combustion event. Water vapour, the sole product of the 'clean' hydrogen reaction, is easily removed through condensation, leaving behind the purified laser-polarized krypton-83 gas diluted only by small remaining quantities of harmless water vapour. This development significantly improves the potential usefulness of laser-pumped krypton-83 as MRI contrast agent for clinical applications."

This new technique can also be used to hyperpolarise another useful noble gas, xenon-129, and may lead to a cheaper and easier production of this contrast agent.

As part of a recent Medical Research Council funding award, hyperpolarised krypton-83 is currently being developed for whole body MRI at high magnetic field strength in the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre's large 7 Tesla scanner. Studies will be carried out first on healthy volunteers before progressing to patient trials at a later phase.

Most Popular Now

Gait Assessed with Body-Worn Sensors may…

Body-worn sensors used at home and in clinic by people with mild Alzheimer's to assess walking could offer a cost-effective way to detect early disease and monitor progression of the...

Applications for the G4A Global Accelera…

Founded in 2013 in Berlin initially giving out grants to innovative healthcare apps, G4A Accelerator is now a global program dedicated to helping innovative health & care startups grow and...

Siemens Healthineers Fully on Track to M…

Siemens Healthineers AG has posted good business figures in the first quarter following its successful initial public offering on March 16, 2018. Year-over-year revenue was up four percent at EUR...

How to Build GDPR and HIPAA Compliant He…

The adoption of cloud and mobile technologies in healthcare is disrupting the services delivery models, and responsibilities and risks for involved actors. By their very nature, eHealth applications collect and...

Computers Equal Radiologists in Assessin…

Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led...

The Big Ethical Questions for Artificial…

AI in healthcare is developing rapidly, with many applications currently in use or in development in the UK and worldwide. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines the current and potential...

Consultation: Transformation Health and …

The present report provides an analysis of the results of consultation activities carried out by the European Commission in preparation of a Communication on the Transformation of Health and Care...

Novartis Launches FocalView App, Providi…

Novartis announced the launch of its FocalView app, an ophthalmic digital research platform created with ResearchKit. FocalView aims to allow researchers to track disease progression by collecting real-time, self-reported data...

International Masters's in Medical Infor…

The Master of Science Program in Medical Informatics (MMI) at European Campus Rottal-Inn (ECRI)in Pfarrkirchen - a branch of the Deggendorf University of Applied Sciences (THD - Technische Hochschule Deggendorf)...

Data in the EU: Commission Steps Up Effo…

The European Commission is putting forward a set of measures to increase the availability of data in the EU, building on previous initiatives to boost the free flow of non-personal...

Philips Expands its Sleep & Respirat…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced that it has acquired NightBalance, a digital health scale-up company based in the Netherlands, that has...

A New Way to Watch Brain Activity in Act…

It's a neuroscientist's dream: being able to track the millions of interactions among brain cells in animals that move about freely, behaving as they would under natural circumstances. New technology...