High-Tc SQUID based MEGMRI
Aggressive brain diseases pose a significant challenge for doctors as the progression of the disease can alter the brain’s structure and function more rapidly than monitoring can be performed. MedTech West is developing a new system that combines functional with structural brain imaging such that doctors can perform both with one and the same system simultaneously.
Our high-Tc SQUIDs allow us to combine MEG and MRI. MEG systems yield recordings of brain activity with unmatched speed. MRI systems enable high-quality images of the brain. However, traditional MRI systems could not be combined with MEG because they operate in environments at opposite extremes in terms of magnetic field strength (MRI fields are more than a million-million times stronger than MEG). Our methods do not suffer from such a limitation because our ultra-sensitive SQUID sensors allow us to perform MRI at far weaker field strengths. In the future, researchers will use the combined imaging modality to provide a deeper understanding of the brain. Furthermore, doctors will more easily image and monitor patients suffering from aggressive brain diseases.
Seeking to understand the functional brain and accurate diagnosis and treatment of brain disease require high-resolution brain imaging systems. State-of-the-art brain imagers produce either high spatial or temporal resolution; at present, no single system can achieve both. High-spatial resolution MR images of the brain are generated in magnetic fields whose strengths are measured in Teslas. The magnetic fields generated by the functional brain and recorded with high temporal resolution MEG systems are some 15 orders of magnitude weaker. While these drastically different field strengths are mutually incompatible, development of a new type of MR that enables imaging in microTesla fields opens the door to the possibility of recording functional and structural information from the brain simultaneously. Our goal is to develop a clinical MEGMRI system with our high-Tc SQUIDs that combines the high speed of MEG with the structural imaging capability of MRI.
We have constructed an ulf-MRI system for imaging at ~100 microTesla and a compatible MEG system for functional brain studies. Both systems are based on magnetic recordings with our high-Tc SQUID technology. Proof-of-principle imaging and functional brain studies with the respective systems have been recorded. These achievements indicate the viability of the approach, both in terms of combining the methods and the advantages gained with high-Tc technology.
The future system will combine the ulf-MRI and MEG systems we are presently developing. MEGMRI images will therefore include functional information about brain activity that is more accurately localized to relevant structural landmarks in the brain. Such information is critical for diagnosis and monitoring of brain disease as well as improving the safety and efficacy of surgical interventions.
MedTech West partner
Dr. Justin F. Schneiderman, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg.
Prof. Dag Winkler, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience - MC2, Chalmers University of Technology.
Dr. Alexei Kalabukhov, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience - MC2, Chalmers University of Technology.
Dr. Fredrik Öisjöen, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience - MC2, Chalmers University of Technology.
Prof. Mikael Elam, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg.
Dr. Anders Hedström, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
For more information on this project, contact Henrik Mindedal at firstname.lastname@example.org