Until recently, reptilian evolutionary studies lacked an important resource – a lizard brain atlas. As the subject of numerous ecological and behavioural studies, the Australian tawny dragon (Agamidae: Ctenophorus decresii) was an ideal candidate for creating a high-resolution MRI atlas of a representative scaled reptile (squamata). Such data is not only a resource for studies of the genus but also informs environmental decision making through an improved understanding of animal adaptation and evolution.Read More
The NIF Molecular Imaging & Radiochemistry (MIR) Theme is a group of NIF Fellows, Directors, and users of NIF facilities that focus on state-of-the-art radiochemistry and molecular imaging applications using PET, SPECT, and MRI.
Integrating preclinical PET systems into a national resource requires the development of defined QA programs to monitor and integrate the data from individual systems. Hence, the MIR Theme initiated a national quality assurance (QA) program for the NIF preclinical PET instruments.Read More
From July 14 – 17, four CIBIT HDR students, Saikat Ghosh, Vanessa Soh, Pragalath Sadasivam and Ting Xiang Lim, attended an in-depth training session on PET imaging. Run by Dr Karine Mardon, NIF Facility Fellow and Molecular Imaging Facility Manager at the Centre for Advanced Imaging, the course covered both molecular imaging theory and practical hands-on training relevant to the students’ research projects.Read More
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths in Australia and remains the global leading cause of death accounting for 17.9 million deaths per year. Of all CVDs, stroke and coronary artery disease account for the majority of deaths. A common underlying cause in these conditions in atherosclerosis, characterised by the build-up of abnormal deposits inside the arteries. Atherosclerotic plaques can rupture and cause thrombosis, or blood clots, resulting in stroke and myocardial infarction. Diagnostic strategies for the detection of thrombi are currently invasive and may not be sensitive to early biomarkers such as localised coagulation and inflammation.
A/Prof Ta, of Griffith University, has teamed up with researchers across Australia and internationally to develop a new form of MRI contrast agent. These ultra-small dual positive and negative contrast iron oxide nanoparticles (DCIONs) provide both T1-positive and T2-negative contrast effects, overcoming the limitations of single modality contrast agents. This duality is particularly important for imaging intravascular thromboses, as current single-contrast nanoparticles results in a black dye against a black artery. Further, the DCIONs are monodisperse, water-soluble, and biocompatible, of critical importance to biomedical applications.
Using non-invasive MRI at the NIF QLD Node, the application of a DCION conjugated to an enzyme found in activated platelets demonstrated accurate and sensitive detection of intravascular thrombosis. Work is continuing to further optimise the early detection of thrombi, expected to allow for earlier and more effective preventative treatments and improved clinical outcomes for patients at risk of stroke and myocardial infarction.
A/Prof Ta is enthusiastic about the future applications of DCIONs beyond thrombosis diagnoses, stating that “these nanoparticles have the potential to replace traditional gadolinium-based contrast agents due to their stronger T1 contrast effect. Existing alternatives cannot do what these nanoparticles can.”
If you have any concerns about heart disease or atherosclerosis, please talk to your GP and check this website.
NIF Facility Fellow Dr Karine Mardon used CT to scan the intact skull of an exceedingly rare species, the Australian Night Parrot. These scans were compared to related parrots, finding that the night parrot may not be any better at seeing in the dark than other related species. Possibly a contributing factor to its rarity, these findings have implications for Night Parrot conservation efforts in the Australian outback.
The Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) exists to enable national-scale research facilities, thereby facilitating Australian researchers to address critical national and global challenges effectively and efficiently. NCRIS projects provide equipment, resources, analysis tools and, importantly, expertise.
These facilities and services are providing essential resources for responding to Australian national crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCRIS offerings pack outlines the facilities and services available to respond to Australia’s research needs during this pandemic.
As a biomedical imaging capability, NIF is well-positioned to support Australia’s Healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic. NIF sites across the country are involved in a variety of COVID-related activities to support Australia’s healthcare and research ecosystem.
The QLD Node (HIRF site) and The Florey Node at Heidelberg, co-located with hospital campuses, are providing clinical imaging support. This reduces patient risk by removing vulnerable groups from the hospital environment and frees up hospital equipment in case of an influx of respiratory patients.
The University of Melbourne Node is working closely with hospitals using the CT scanner to catalogue parts to be used for 3D printing – for example, parts of ventilators.
Similarly, the LARIF Node in South Australia has scaled up the 4DX technology from small animal work, successfully tested on a large animal. This offers a low-cost, easily manufactured ventilators for use with COVID-19 and ongoing use in less developed countries. An ethics application is in progress to enable production for human use.
In addition to directly working with healthcare providers, the NIF ecosystem is enabling research to support affected populations.
SAHMRI, housing the LARIF NIF node, is engaged in COVID vaccination studies in animal models. Also, the 4DX lung scanning technology is being used to investigate disease models for lung pathology.
At the University of Western Australia Node, researchers are utilising lung MRI to investigate the effect of ethanol inhalation on lipophilic viruses (including SARS-CoV-2). Through developing a deposition map for nebulised ethanol in the lungs, this study highlights a potentially inexpensive and readily available COVID-19 treatment. Find out more about this study by accessing the arXiv pre-print.
A research project is underway at the University of Sydney to bring supportive treatment to COVID patients in ICU. Researchers are testing the feasibility of implanting an Impella LVAD device via ultrasound guidance (2D and 3D intracardiac echocardiography). This work provides clinicians with more treatment options for high-risk patients without the need to transport through the hospital. The University of Sydney is also leading a project to build ventilators (named ‘CoVida’) that are quick and economical to produce in order to provide back-up ventilators if required in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sydney Imaging Hybrid Theatre is currently being used as the test site for these ventilators to ensure they are robust and fit for purpose.
Finally, NIF radiochemistry capabilities are ready to provide clinical tracer supply as impacted by reduced import capability. The National Research Cyclotron Facility is available to supply clinical FDG to hospital sites to supplement disrupted supply chains.
Do you have a research project requiring the use of imaging facilities? COVID-related or otherwise, NIF is ready to facilitate your project with our network of instrumentation and expertise. Find out more by contacting us as firstname.lastname@example.org
The capacity to undertake research into dementia, mental illness, brain injury (e.g., stroke), and cancer in South-East Queensland has been greatly enhanced through the expanded human imaging capabilities of the National Imaging Facility (NIF).
The NIF has formally expanded its Queensland Node, allowing for the translation of new imaging approaches into the clinical space.
The expansion brings together the capabilities of the Herston Imaging Research Facility (HIRF), based at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s Herston Precinct and the University of Queensland’s Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) as a powerful joint node in Queensland.
The NIF Queensland Node Director, Prof Markus Barth, says, “the extension of the NIF Queensland Node will increase the medical imaging capabilities and improve translation from pre-clinical imaging to patient populations.”
HIRF is a research facility, primely positioned to conduct imaging research and clinical trials in patient populations.
Prof Michael O’Sullivan, Director of HIRF, adds, “Most of all, this (expansion) is excellent news for patients. Part of NIF’s mission is to move advanced imaging closer to the translational interface. At HIRF, our focus is to use advanced imaging to help tackle major health challenges that we find in our local population.”
HIRF was established as an alliance between Metro North Hospital and Health Services, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Queensland.
HIRF contributes three cutting-edge research scanners, based at a hospital site, to the NIF network.
This expansion dramatically increases the capacity of Queensland’s clinical research portfolio through multimodal imaging – magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT) scanning modalities.
Its position on Herston Campus provides not only access to large patient cohorts but certified radiochemistry facilities for a broad range of PET radiotracers.
Prof Graham Galloway, NIF CEO, says, “NIF commends the Queensland Node for this collaborative partnership of campuses across multiple institutions to deliver a comprehensive and coordinated imaging capability to researchers, not only in Queensland, but nationally and internationally.”
For more information about the NIF, please contact:
NIF CEO, Prof Graham Galloway – email@example.com
NIF Engagement Manager, Dr Noni Creasey – firstname.lastname@example.org
NIF would like to thank the Queensland Government for their support at the Queensland Node.
NIF Facility Fellow Dr Karine Mardon, of the QLD NIF Node, transformed micro-CT imaging data of museum specimens into an interactive art exhibit. at the Australia Museum Westpac Gallery.
Read more here.
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