Public and private organizations invest heavily in innovative metabolism MRI scanner of UMC

10 December 2018

Top Sector Life Sciences & Health and industry partners together invest 49 million euros in the installation and implementation of clinical MRI scanners that not only visualize anatomy and physiology but metabolism as well. Feasibility has since been demonstrated with a prototype (META scan) developed by UMC Utrecht and Philips. This META scan provides a simultaneous image of metabolism, anatomy and physiology. The scanner is used for research into the early determination of therapy effectiveness. Expectations are that ineffective treatment can be remodeled into effective treatment in the near future. This may be of great benefit to patients: optimal treatment with fewer side effects. Moreover, health care costs can be reduced.

Medical imaging plays a crucial role in the more direct identification of diseases and determining the effectiveness of the therapy selected. Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRI) can be used to obtain specific information about the metabolism. Developing the META scan prototype into a clinical scanner and installing and using this equipment efficiently and effectively in a clinical setting requires a number of steps.

Despite the high field strength (7 Tesla) and the additional options, the device will be made more compact by Tesla in the near future, so that it will have a comparable footprint to the current 3-Tesla MRI scanner and can be installed in any hospital. The different types of images, such as metabolism, physiology and anatomy, must be optimally combined, so that patients do not have to go into multiple scanners and all relevant information can be measured within the same time as with the current MRI scans. The clinical added value is being studied concurrently, so that the device can obtain a quality mark and can be used effectively to improve the treatment of patients.

Health benefits and economic growth

“The development of the META scanner is an example of the combination of knowledge and innovation with the commercial clout of the business community,” says Prof. Dr Nico van Meeteren, director of the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health bureau. “It is an inspirational collaboration based on social needs and with economic prospects. The Netherlands is getting healthier, while the business community – in this case Philips – plays a role in the international growth market.” Dr. Paul Folkers, Head of Global MRI Clinical Science at Philips, is pleased with the different innovative developments, including the META scan, that Philips will be developing together with UMC Utrecht. “Dutch academic researchers, including those in Utrecht, play a key role in innovative developments in the field of MRI.”

The project is set to be completed in 2023 and is headed by researcher Dr. Dennis Klomp of UMC Utrecht in cooperation with the university medical centers in Maastricht, Nijmegen, Amsterdam, Groningen and Leiden, the Spinoza Centre, Eindhoven University of Technology, Philips, and the spin-off company MR Code.


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