£7m centre to focus on improving MRI scans

Have your say

Major improvements in the detection of diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease will be pioneered at a £7m centre opening in Yorkshire.

The new Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance at York University is developing technology which could increase the sensitivity of hospital MRI scans by up to 200,000 times.

More than 30 research scientists work at the centre which includes a chemical laboratory and the latest research instrumentation.

A new technique known as Signal Amplification by Reversible Exchange developed at York has meant chemical analysis that once took 90 days to record can now be obtained in just five seconds and detailed MRI images can be collected in seconds rather than hours. It could improve diagnoses and detection in areas of medicine including cancer treatment, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions.

Prof Simon Duckett, of York University, who is co-leading the research, said the centre’s opening marked a significant milestone in the development of new scanning technologies at York.

“The new technique we are developing here at York means that patients who once had to wait days or even weeks for scans to be completed and interpreted can, in some cases, now be diagnosed in hours, allowing earlier treatment for serious illness,” he said.

Colleague Prof Gary Green, of the York Neuroimaging Centre, said: “The technique will bring significant benefits to diagnosis and treatment in many areas of medicine and surgery It could ultimately replace current clinical imaging technologies that depend on the use of radioactive substances or heavy metal based contrast.”

The project has been given more than £12m from the Wellcome Trust, leading instrumentation firm Bruker Biospin, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the university. The purpose-built facility on York Science Park will be opened tomorrow by Sir William Castell, chairman of the Wellcome Trust.