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 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).Read More
The arches of the human foot are unique structures that are important for functions like walking and running. The deep intrinsic muscles of the foot, such as the adductor halluces and interossei, are thought to play key roles in arch control; yet little is known about how they are controlled during functional tasks. The traditional measurement techniques can only provide information regarding muscle size, which is inadequate to evaluate the force-generating capacity of the muscles, assess the process of force generation by the muscles, and understand the involvement of the neural drive sent by the body to the muscles to regulate force production.
Using the 7T human MRI at the Centre for Advanced Imaging, a research study is currently investigating the muscle architecture of the adductor halluces and interossei. This research aims to quantify the force-generating capacities of these deep-foot muscles by measuring their MRI muscle volumes, estimate their force production by shear wave Elastography and measure their neural drive by using Electromyography.
MRI images are obtained from male and female volunteers with no lower limb pain or injury. To date, structural MR images of deep foot muscles have been obtained using T1 VIBE 3D Transverse Oblique sequence and MRI muscle volumes have been measured. In future, diffusion tensor imaging will be performed to measure apparent diffusion coefficient and fractional anisotropy of the deep foot muscles.
This story was contributed by the University of Queensland, with acknowedgements to Dr Natalie Collins of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland.
For further information, please contact Dr Tonima Ali.
Sunny Queensland has a high rate of skin cancer, with melanoma as the second most common cancer in Queenslanders. In the area of the head and neck, this can lead to invasion of facial nerves and spread via the base of the skull to reach the brain stem. The extent of the progression, the so-called perineural spread, defines the therapeutic approach, informing the extent of required resection, and the complexity and duration of the surgical procedure. Imaging the extent of nerve involvement is critical to guiding treatment decisions and MRI neurography is the accepted imaging modality of choice.
Standard MRI may underestimate disease extent, but a current clinical trial explores the improved resolution and sensitivity using the 7 Tesla ultra-high field MRI scanner at the Centre for Advance Imaging at UQ. This improves visualisation of cranial nerves (see Figure and insert with zoomed nerve fibres) and potentially improves the definition of the perineural spread. The clinical trial is led by Dr. Sommerville from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD, and involves a Brisbane-based multidisciplinary team of head and neck surgeons, radiologists and scientists in the UHF MR Research team (Head: Dr. Barth, NIF Fellows Dr. Bollmann and Dr. Ali) at the UQ Centre for Advanced Imaging. The first patient scan has been performed, with 20 patients more to follow after a successful funding application sponsored by the 2018 round of the RBWH Diamond Care Grants.
If you would like to know more about skin cancer, please check the Cancer Council website and speak to your GP.
This story was contributed by the University of Queensland. For further information, contact Dr Tonima Ali.
Australia is at the forefront of dementia research with world leading studies such as the Australian Imaging and Lifestyle study of Ageing (AIBL) led by a consortium of Australia’s leading Dementia centres, and the recently started Prospective Study of Ageing (PISA) led by the QIMR Berghofer.
The installation of the first human ultra-high field MRI scanner in the southern hemisphere at the Centre for Advance Imaging, the Qld node of the National Imaging Facility, in 2014 opened up a new era of imaging research. The Siemens 7T whole-body MRI scanner brought Australia to the forefront of ultra-high field research enabling examination of the human brain with an unprecedented level of detail.
Subsequently, a second 7T scanner was installed at the Melbourne Brain Centre providing a unique opportunity for a national multi-centre collaboration in ultra-high field MRI and the capability to explore new imaging biomarkers for diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease. A major project is underway, led by the Brisbane-based CSIRO eHealth Research Centre, co-funded by the CRC for Mental Health and in collaboration with the QIMR Berghofer, University of Melbourne and Florey Institute for Neuroscience with the broad aim of characterising new bioimaging biomarkers of neurodegeneration in the aging population. A suite of MRI methods is being applied at both sites on large cohorts of healthy aging subjects and patients diagnosed with fronto-temporal dementia. The scanning part of the project has been successfully completed with superb image quality obtained using state of the art sequences. A significant effort is now underway to analyse this valuable data which may contain a wealth of diagnostic information not otherwise available.
This story was contributed by The University of Queensland
Feature image: (Left) 3D MP2RAGE 0.9mm isotropic showing exceptional tissue contrast, (centre) example of a Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM), a mechanism for useful chemical identification and quantification of specific biomarkers, and (right) T2W TSE using coronal accquisition for hippocampus subfield examination.
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