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MR Solutions’ 3T MRI preclinical imaging system aids oncology research at Luxembourg

The NORLUX Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, an international research center which is part of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) has installed MR Solution’s – MRS 3017 – 3T cryogen-free MRI preclinical scanner to further cancer research with a particular focus on malignant brain tumours. Not only does this 17 cm bore scanner provide state of the art images but its small footprint –  the size of a desk – means it can easily be accommodated while the integrity of the specific pathogen free (SPF) environment remains intact as there is no need for an emergency liquid helium venting system.

It is also the only 3T scanning system which has the ability to operate at various clinical field strengths allowing easy translation of the researchers’ applications to the clinic. Further molecular imaging capability such as PET or SPECT can be added to the system in the future.

Although the primary focus is meant for oncology research projects, the scanner is also used by researchers from the Department of Infection and Immunity and this can be extended to neuro-degenerative and infectious disease areas. It is also available to other research groups across the greater Luxembourg region.

Dr Olivier Keunen, who is responsible for the in-vivo imaging facilities at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, commented “The balance between ease of use and the ability to carry out cutting edge research fits our requirements perfectly. This means that users with little or no MRI experience are able to acquire routine scans within minutes using the simple interface ‘Preclinical Scan’ while advanced tools allow MR scientists to develop and customize new protocols and pulse sequences for more advanced research.”

As an exceptionally clean working environment is particularly important when working with immune-deficient animals it is necessary to ensure that a SPF environment is maintained within the research facility. To facilitate this the MRI system was installed within a dedicated isolation room, and connected to externally located heat exchangers. Following installation the environment was disinfected before connection to the SPF animal facility to prevent contamination.

Simone Niclou, PhD, Head of the NORLUX Neuro-Oncology Laboratory and responsible for the Animal Facilities at LIH, said, “We are delighted with the performance of the scanner. Its small footprint allowed it to fit into our temporary animal facility and being the only 3T system with cryogen free cooling and therefore no quench venting system makes it easy and inexpensive to resite. It also means that we have no expensive helium top-ups.”

MR Solutions, a holder of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2016 for Innovation, has established a collaborative agreement with the Luxembourg Institute of Health which allows researchers to have direct access to MR Solutions development physicists who can help develop innovative MRI pulse sequences.