Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important medical imaging technique that combines excellent soft tissue contrast with high spatial resolution and can also provide functional information. However, pathological processes are often characterized by molecular or metabolic changes that can be observed before morphological effects. Some metabolites can be detected with the related method of MR spectroscopy, but the sensitivity of this method is relatively low and it is usually only used locally for a certain volumes. CEST MRI is a method that can produce images of the distribution of certain metabolites in tissue and therefore decisively broadens the application possibilities of MRI for precision medicine. The so-called "Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer" of hydrogen nuclei is used for this purpose. With this effect, the high water content in tissue can increase the sensitivity for specific molecule groups up to a thousand times or even more. However, this promising technique still requires essential methodological developments for diagnostic applications in the clinic. Accordingly, this project aims to significantly advance CEST-MRI by combining new methods in image and contrast coding with current mathematical approaches for image reconstruction and data analysis. This should lead to fast and quantitative metabolic imaging on clinically usable MR systems. Established limits, such as those set by the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem, will be significantly exceeded. The project is divided into two overlapping work areas. On the one hand, the signal excitation for encoding metabolic information will be optimized. On the other hand, the development of new measurement and reconstruction methods will massively reduce the examination time. The newly developed methods are investigated at different magnetic field strengths, from 3T to the highest in-vivo field strengths of 9.4T. To achieve this goal, interdisciplinary international cooperation is required. The Austrian group (R. Stollberger, K. Bredies) has its strength in the development and implementation of new MRI methods based on mathematical optimization and variable image reconstruction techniques. The German group (M. Zaiss) has extensive experience in all aspects of CEST-MRI and also has access to state-of-the-art in vivo UHF systems. If the project is successfully implemented, a decisive contribution can be made to a better and more patient-friendly acquisition of metabolic information by MRI. This is an important basis for broader clinical application in biomarker imaging and precision medicine.
|Effective start/end date||1/10/20 → 31/05/25|
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