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A research center at the University of York in York, England, is working on technology that might allow high-quality MRI images to be obtained within a few seconds.

The new Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance officially opened last week at York Science Park next to the university. It’s a joint project of the university’s chemistry and psychological departments and houses 30 research scientists as well as some very high-tech equipment, including a 7-tesla MRI scanner. Some of the researchers have been working on technology that, they say, could increase the sensitivity of MRI scanners up to 200,000 times.

“While MRI has completely changed modern health care, its value is greatly limited by its low sensitivity,” said Simon Duckett, PhD, the center’s director. He continued:

As well as tailoring treatments more accurately to the needs of individual patients, our hope is that in the future, doctors will be able to accurately make diagnoses that currently take days, weeks, and sometimes months, in just minutes.

Dr. Duckett was quoted in a news release from the center.

The core technology is signal amplification by reversible exchange, or SABRE. A grant of 3.6 million pounds ($5.8 million) from the Wellcome Trust is funding a team of seven postdoctoral researchers.

“SABRE has the potential to revolutionize clinical MRI and related MR methods by providing a huge improvement in the sensitivity of scanners,” said Gary Green, DPhil, BM, BCh, director of the York Neuroimaging Centre and co-leader of the SABRE project along with Dr. Duckett and Hugh Perry, DPhil, of the Centre for Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

“The technique will bring significant benefits to diagnosis and treatment in many areas of medicine and surgery,” Dr. Green told the Yorkshire Post. “It could ultimately replace clinical imaging technologies that depend on the use of radioactive substances or heavy metal–based contrast.”

Related CME seminar (up to 13.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): New Horizons in Musculoskeletal MRI

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