From the discovery of x-rays to the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) medical imaging has profited from a broad range of physical technologies to enable the practitioner to image the inside of our body without causing injury. This ability to image in increasingly fine detail the structure of our bodies and the processes that support its function has enormous medical benefits. Yet the observation of molecular processes with high spatial resolution remain a current challenge.
Non-invasive detection of small amounts of molecular probes to help image particular targets or pathways in vivo is currently undergoing a technological revolution. Recent breakthroughs in molecular hyperpolarization showed an increase in conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems, thus providing insight into previously unseen metabolic processes with enormous potential for socioeconomic relevant diseases. Preclinical studies have shown metabolic imaging via hyperpolarized pyruvate to be successful in assessing tumour aggressiveness and response to therapy, thereby taking non-invasive imaging beyond simple diagnostics, and into the realm of personalized healthcare.
HYPERDIAMOND will use the unique properties of NV centres in diamonds to hyperpolarize ¹³C nuclear spins, either inside the diamond or in external molecules, thus bringing innovation from this field to offer radical improvements over the existing technologies for hyperpolarization, enabling cost-effective molecular imaging with nanomolar sensitivity with conventional MRI systems.
HYPERDIAMOND is a multidisciplinary collaboration of world leading research groups and innovative companies, with expertise ranging from experimental and theoretical quantum physics and material science to bio-organic chemistry and medical imaging. This seamless stream of expertise will enable the development, realisation and optimization in the laboratory of a hyperpolarisation platform for molecular imaging and its transformation into a product that can be used for molecular imaging at clinics and medical labs, for a fraction of the price of the current gold standard (PET).