The 3T MRI scanner, which is joint funded by UCLH and a major grant award by the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre (UCLH/UCL BRC), will enable scientists and clinicians to work together on cutting edge research projects with direct benefit to patients.
3T MRI scanner (image courtesy of manufacturers Philips Healthcare)
The equipment provides detailed, high definition images of tissue – without the patient being exposed to radiation. The more sensitive the screening process is, the earlier diseases such as cancer can be identified and treated: tiny changes to the structure and function of tissue precede larger more obvious changes to the anatomy.
As well as providing a dedicated research facility, the increased capacity (20 extra scanning hours a week) means more NHS patients can be scanned.
The BRC grant was awarded to Dr. Stuart Taylor, honorary consultant radiologist and reader at UCL (University College London) and co-investigators.
Honorary consultant radiologist Shonit Punwani (lead for the research facility), said: “It is fantastic equipment and provides more detailed images in the same amount of time as current equipment, with the potential to lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Patients with a wide range of conditions will benefit including those with stroke, cancer and orthopaedic disorders.
Unveiled at UCH: (l-r) Shonit Punwani (research facility lead and honorary consultant radiologist); Dr Stuart Taylor(honorary consultant radiologist and reader at UCL);Professor Deenan Pillay(director of BRC); Richard Murley (chairman of UCLH) and Sir Robert Naylor(chief executive of UCLH).
“The facility will be pivotal in developing research projects focusing on scanning techniques which are not routinely available but show promise or have been successful in pre-clinical models. It will be invaluable in helping us bring them quickly into clinical practice to benefit patients.”
Research teams are also developing MRI techniques which could reduce the need for more conventional scans using ionizing radiation in cancer imaging - particularly important for young patients where radiation exposure should be limited.
Director of the BRC Professor Deenan Pillay said: ‘It’s exciting to see the launch of the 3T scanner. With 50% of the scanner time dedicated to research, this provides an incredible resource for researchers. It provides researchers with the tools to translate cutting edge science into real benefits for patients and patient care.’
The five ton machine was hoisted by crane into place on the second floor of University College Hospital (UCH). The equipment is available for private patient work and commercial clinical trial research.
The UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) funded £1million of the £2million capital costs of the 3T MRI scanner and £700,000 towards running costs for the first 3 years so that research income can be built up and the scanner can become self-supporting.
The UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre, which was established in 2007, has invested in hundreds of different research projects. Funding provided by the BRC has attracted more than £90 million from external sources such as drug companies and charities who wish to undertake research.
Last month the BRC received a grant of over £98million to continue its groundbreaking ‘translational research’ turning innovations in basic science into treatments and therapies that have a direct effect on patients .This latest grant is part of a national award of £800 million to leading research centres in the country.