A new technology which dramatically improves the sensitivity of Magnetic Resonance techniques including those used in hospital scanners and chemistry laboratories has been developed by scientists at the University of York.
Ultimately, the technique, based on manipulating parahydrogen, the fuel of the space shuttle, is expected to allow doctors to learn far more about a patient's condition from an MRI scan at lower cost while increasing the range of medical conditions that can be examined.
The research is published in the latest edition of the journal Science.
Researchers have taken parahydrogen and, through a reversible interaction with a specially designed molecular scaffold, transferred its magnetism to a range of molecules. The resulting molecules are much more easily detected than was previously possible. No-one has been able to use parahydrogen in this way before.
Professor Gary Green, from the Department of Psychology and Director of the York Neuroimaging Centre, said: "Our method has the potential to help doctors make faster and more accurate diagnoses in a wide range of medical conditions.
"The technique could ultimately replace current clinical imaging technologies that depend on the use of radioactive substances or heavy metals, which themselves create health concerns."
The new method will also have major implications for scientific research because it radically reduces the time taken to obtain results using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technology, the most popular method for obtaining analytical and structural information in chemistry.
Professor Simon Duckett, from the University's Department of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Magnetic Resonance, said: "We have been able to increase sensitivity in NMR by over 1000 times so data that once took 90 days to record can now be obtained in just five seconds. Similarly, an MRI image can now be collected in a fraction of a second r
|Contact: James Reed|
University of York