In the Advanced Medical Imaging (AMI) cross-cutting theme we develop medical imaging technologies to ‘see’ what is inside the human body. Imaging enables us to visualise the body’s structure, look for the presence of abnormalities linked with illness and increasingly look at various aspects of how the body functions. Currently our main techniques involve Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). We also link MRI data with measurements of electrical activity in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG) and plan to expand our techniques further to include Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
Our imaging hub at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital has been performing MRI and MRS on patients since August 1991 and being based in one of the UK’s major neuroscience referral centres of expertise, NeuroImaging (imaging of the brain and spine) has been and is one of our main areas of imaging, patient-based research.
Imaging plays a vital role in understanding how diseases develop and progress, often termed ‘experimental medicine’. Providing hallmarks for various types of disease, imaging is increasingly also being used in assessing the effects of and ultimately the efficacy of novel interventions. Being able to use MRI and MRS to monitor how new drugs or other types of therapies are translated into healthcare is one of the main aims of Sheffield’s BRC and its Advanced Medical Imaging cross-cutting theme.
Over the short and medium term, we aim to further develop in-vivo MR techniques and their applications that are particularly applicable to our BRC’s main areas of interest. Examples include:
- Quantitation of brain volumes to identify changes that occur during neurodegenerative processes
- Multi-Nuclear Spectroscopy (eg, 31-Phosphorous) to investigate the cellular energy status of the brain
- Quantitation of the nature of the diffusion of water molecules within the brain
- Characterisation of atherosclerotic plaques that can block the supply arteries to the brain
- Link blood perfusion through brain tissue to cardiac output and function
In the long term we aim to fully integrate our MRI and PET anatomical and functional imaging techniques.