Major improvements in the detection of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s are being developed at a pioneering 8.2 million Euro research facility which has just been officially opened at the University of York, England. The new Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance (CHyM) is developing technology which could increase the sensitivity of hospital Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans by up to 200,000 times. The new purpose-built facility on York Science Park was opened by Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust at a ceremony on 11 September. Over 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 (SABRE), means that 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. The approach could improve diagnoses and detection in many areas of medicine including cancer treatment, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions. The new technique being developed 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 thus allowing earlier treatment for serious illness. The technique will bring significant benefits to diagnosis and treatment in many areas of medicine and surgery ranging from cancer diagnosis to orthopaedics and trauma. It could ultimately replace current clinical imaging technologies that depend on the use of radioactive substances or heavy metal-based contrast systems.
CHyM YORK, UNITED KINGDOM