The world's first national brain imaging network
Diagnosing and treating degenerative brain diseases at the point you see symptoms is too late. Thanks to DPUK investment, UK brain imaging experts are using advanced scanning to picture the earliest signs of dementia. This is a fundamental step on the path to effective treatment.
Seven scanner brain imaging network
MR-PET imaging: tracking the beginnings of dementia in the brain
DPUK invested in seven state-of-the-art scanners, allowing scientists to conduct UK-wide dementia research. The brain imaging network supports research into the hard-to-spot early signs of the disease.
Protocol: operational guidance for networked dementia research
In the past, variability in brain scanners has made multi-site brain imaging studies impossible. Now Principal Investigators and those running clinical trials have access to robust operational guidance for conducting UK-wide dementia research. Researchers wishing to view the full document should contact the authors.
Technical capability: image sharing
Thanks to the imaging informatics technology developed by DPUK, imagers are able to store and share brain image data safely with researchers.
Detailed brain imaging studies of dementia are now under way
This study will use a highly-advanced imaging technique – simultaneous MR-PET scanning – to allow scientists to model in detail the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. By also using data from existing health study participants they'll be able to draw parallels with other changes that occur early on.
What exactly is the process of deterioration that happens in the brain cells? Researchers need to know a lot more detail about the cell-scale changes that take place when dementia takes hold so that when it comes to clinical trials, they know whether the treatments they develop are working. For the first time they're using PET scanning to look inside the cell.
The New Therapeutics into Alzheimer's Disease (NTAD) study is looking to detect markers of the disease before symptoms show. These markers for the disease will be used to test whether experimental treatments can delay, or even prevent, the progression of the disease.
One of the big challenges facing dementia researchers is how to diagnose and track Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages – often decades before symptoms start to show. The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study will help scientists to identify the best early warning signs of this condition, and to track responses to treatments.
Imaging experts at sites up and down the UK are now connected in a way that was unforeseeable five years ago. On monthly calls facilitated by DPUK, brain image scientists discuss and develop methods, and share best practice.
Imaging scientists using the new PET-MR scanners are working at the frontier of a fast-moving field. DPUK collated the best training opportunities in the UK, abroad and online so that this new generation of dementia researchers is fully equipped.
In setting up the Imaging Network we believed the network approach would bring together a larger critical mass of the range of skills needed for this type of interdisciplinary research, enhancing the sharing of ideas, technologies and best practice and establishing standard procedures across centres.
- Dr Franklin Aigbirhio, DPUK Imaging Network Lead
DPUK has put me in touch with fellow radiographers from across the UK, allowing knowledge exchange with researchers from a variety of backgrounds.
- Sean Denham, imaging scientist at the University of Edinburgh