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Translational Research: TransFOR

The 9.4-T MR-PET completes the Jülich research platform "TransFOR" in terms of imaging techniques in brain research. The devices available in Jülich enable the direct transfer of basic findings to clinical application.

Jülich scientists aim to use their know-how to harmonise the function of the technical components of MRI and PET at these high field strengths. Furthermore, they will develop new methods of image formation and new contrast media for the following purposes: detailed tumour diagnosis, early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and further exploration of the brain functions down to the molecular level.

Together with the pharmaceutical industry involved in research, drugs for the diagnosis and treatment of different neurological diseases can be specifically tested.

Nitrogen Refill

Since 2004, a 9.4-T MRI for animals has been in use at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Researchers use this device to test techniques in animal models for the 9.4-T MR-PET for humans.

In particular, a project is ongoing which is designed to study brain function as well as pathological changes based on the measurement of cerebral oxygen metabolism and oxygen consumption. Natural abundance imaging of 17O paves the way to noninvasive quantitative measurements of the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO2). Here, 17O has been directly measured at the 9.4T animal scanner.

The data were first measured at the proton frequency using two sequences (a 3D Cartesian gradient echo sequence and a TPI sequence [1]). The two scans were performed with the same nominal isotropic resolution (1mm) and comparable measurement times of 3:12 min and 3:20 min, respectively (see the top row of Fig.1). Next, the coil was changed to 17O and data were acquired with 1.2 mm and 1.3 mm nominal isotropic resolution using the 3D Cartesian gradient echo sequence (25 min) and the TPI sequence (20 min), respectively (see the middle row of Fig. 1). Lastly, lower resolution acquisitions were performed with 2 mm and 3 mm nominal isotropic resolution in acquisition times of 5 min and 1 min respectively (see the bottom row of Fig. 1).

GRE and TPI sequences

Figure 1. Proton and 17O images acquired with GRE and TPI sequences.

Figure 2 shows the same 17O acquisitions but acquired on a rat brain. These acquisitions pave the way to future 17O inhalation experiments to quantify CMRO2 by means of 17O MRI.

 TPI sequences for a rat brain

Figure 2. 17O images acquired with the TPI sequence for a rat brain.

1. F E Boada, J S Gillen, G X Shen, S Y Chang, and K R Thulborn. Fast three dimensional sodium imaging. Magnetic resonance in medicine: official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 37(5):706–15, may 1997.