Philips hybrid PET/MR scanner

As leader of the European Union funded HYPERImage research project,
Royal Philips Electronics announced that
the project has achieved a major milestone in its ambitious plan to
create a new medical imaging technique called hybrid PET/MR. This new
technique is based on the simultaneous acquisition of time-of-flight Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance (MR) images.

The
project involves eight partners from six European countries and has a
total budget of around EUR 7 million. The ultimate goals of the project
are to advance the accuracy of diagnostic imaging in cardiology and
oncology and open up new fields in therapy planning, guidance and
response monitoring.

A hybrid PET/MR scanner could
simultaneously deliver the anatomical and functional information
achievable using state-of-the-art MR scanners (e.g. soft tissue
contrast and physiological processes in blood vessels) and the
molecular imaging information provided by PET. As a result, it would
combine the best of both worlds, which could ultimately help to
pinpoint and characterize disease sites within the body more accurately
than is currently possible.

For a hybrid scanner that
offers simultaneous PET and MR image acquisition, two fundamental
problems need to be solved: the development of MR-compatible PET
detectors and a method of accounting for PET attenuation (the
scattering of high-energy gamma rays generated by the PET tracers by
parts of the human body).

The milestone that the
HYPERImage team has reached is the development of a functional
gamma-ray detector that meets the performance requirements of the
latest time-of-flight PET scanners. The new gamma-ray detectors
have been designed to be compatible with the strong static and dynamic
magnetic fields that would be present in a combined PET/MR scanner.
Furthermore, the team has achieved major progress with respect to
MRI-based static and dynamic PET attenuation correction. Details of
these results are presented at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, which takes place on October 25-31 in Orlando, Florida, USA.

“Understanding
the molecular mechanisms associated with cardiovascular disease and
cancer, and the development of technologies focused on the early
detection of these disease processes are the two main challenges of
biomedical research,” said Prof. Dr. Valentin Fuster, Director of the
National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid (one of Europe’s
leading research centers in cardiology) and the Cardiovascular
Institute at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “I am
convinced that the realization of a PET/MR technology platform will
significantly help to improve the precision and the moment at which
disease is diagnosed, two critical parameters for the successful
treatment of many diseases.”

“The HYPERImage team’s
combined expertise in semiconductor physics, signal processing and
medical scanner design, together with its expert clinical knowledge,
have moved the project an important step forward in the development of
a new imaging tool that is intended to help clinicians diagnose and
treat some of the world’s most prevalent killer diseases, such as
breast cancer,” says Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips
Research and head of Philips’ healthcare research program. “I am proud
to say that proof-of-concept of an MR-compatible PET detector took the
team less than 1.5 years to achieve. It clearly demonstrates that good
collaborations lead to very fast progress.”

The
HYPERImage consortium comprises three universities (King’s College
London, UK; Universität Heidelberg, Germany; and Universiteit Ghent –
Institute for Broadband Technology, Belgium), three research
foundations (Fundación Centro Nacional de Investigaciones
Cardiovasculares, Spain; Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Italy; and The
Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Netherlands), a university medical
center (Uniklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany) and the industrial
partner (Philips, The Netherlands and Germany).

EU
funding for the HYPERImage project, which is being provided as part of
the EU’s 7th Framework Program, amounts to around EUR 5 million. The
consortium partners will provide an additional EUR 2.3 million. The
project started in 2008 and will run for three years. Philips’
leadership of the consortium is based on its experience in designing
and developing medical scanners.

 

 

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