Outstanding results in MRI technology by Hungarian researchers

Today, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the most versatile and most dynamically developing imaging technique in medicine. Besides its clinical use, MRI plays a crucial role in research in the structure and functions of the human brain with non-invasive technology. Consequently, the development of MRI technology and the widening of the scope of this method is method is of primary importance in the field of R&D.

6 November, 2017

Although structural and functional MRI experiments have long been conducted in Hungary, the development of MR technology on sequences and image reconstruction techniques used in the course of data collection has been absent. Researchers used to apply standard measuring techniques provided by manufacturers. However, one of the main objectives of the R&D MRI laboratory at the MTA BIC (Brain Imaging Centre at the MTA Research Centre for Natural Sciences), founded two years ago, was to establish the first Hungarian base for MRI methodology development, headed by Zoltán Vidnyánszky, where the infrastructure and expertise conforming to international standards is also available.

The first step of the programme in 2015 was to buy a Siemens 3T Magnetom Prisma MRI device optimised for R&D, with the joint support of the Academy’s Research Infrastructure Development Program and the Hungarian Brain Research Program. Experts on the physics of MR are indispensable regarding MRI method development. Young researchers were trained at the Brain Imaging Center and in a special medical physics course at the Budapest University of Technology and Economy. Ádám Kettinger, a leading MR physicist at the Brain Imaging Centre, played a leading role in the training process.

The first results of the R&D work concerned accelerated MRI technology with large time resolution. An influential article was published in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, the most renowned journal in the field, on how noise produced by the acceleration can be reduced. The most important result published in the article, whose first author is Ádám Kettinger, is that the amplified noise produced during considerably accelerated MRI measurements can significantly be reduced by tailored radio frequency pulses optimised for the given measuring parameters and for the patient and by a special image reconstruction method. The method enables us to double the maximal velocity of modern MRI measurements without considerable noise amplification. As a result of the shortened measurement times, the time resolution of functional measurements can increase and long structural measurements can be shortened, which is crucial in clinical practice.

Additionally, the MRI method development pursued in the Brain Imaging Centre piqued the interest of many members of the international scientific community and industrial partners. The above publication was the result of joint research by the German Magnetic Resonance and X-ray Imaging Department, Fraunhofer Development Center X-ray Technology, and the Erlangen centre of Siemens Healthcare GmbH, which produces MRI devices. On-going and future method-development research will focus on functional MRI methods capable of characterising normal and pathological cognitive functions. For this line of research, cooperation is to start with researchers from the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, which serves as the MRI development centre for MIT, and Harvard Medical School.