A whole-body Fast Field-Cycling scanner for clinical molecular imaging studies

Lionel M Broche* (Corresponding Author), P. James Ross, Gareth R. Davies, Mary-Joan Macleod, David J. Lurie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Fast Field-Cycling (FFC) is a well-established Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) technique that exploits varying magnetic fields to quantify molecular motion over a wide range of time scales, providing rich structural information from nanometres to micrometres, non-invasively. Previous work demonstrated great potential for FFC-NMR biomarkers in medical applications; our research group has now ported this technology to medical imaging by designing a whole-body FFC Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FFC-MRI) scanner capable of performing accurate measurements non-invasively over the entire body, using signals from water and fat protons. This is a unique tool to explore new biomarkers related to disease-induced tissue remodelling. Our approach required making radical changes in the design, construction and control of MRI hardware so that the magnetic field is switched within 12.5 ms to reach any field strength from 50 μT to 0.2 T, providing clinically useful images within minutes. Pilot studies demonstrated endogenous field-dependant contrast in biological tissues in good agreement with reference data from other imaging modalities, confirming that our system can perform multiscale structural imaging of biological tissues, from nanometres to micrometres. It is now possible to confirm ex vivo results obtained from previous clinical studies, offering applications in diagnosis, staging and monitoring treatment for cancer, stroke, osteoarthritis and oedema.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10402
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the clinical teams of the Royal Aberdeen Infirmary for their support, in particular Dr German Guzman-Guttierez, Mr Paddy Ashcroft, Dr Tanja Gagliardi, Prof Steven Heys, Prof Alison Murray and Prof Graeme Murray. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 668119 (project “IDentIFY”).


  • NMR
  • MRI


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