Scannexus (Brains Unlimited B.V.)Open Access Ultra High Field MRI Facilities

Contact details:

prof. dr. Albert Scherpbier
Oxfordlaan 55, 6229 EV Maastricht

A European Centre of Excellence in Ultra-High-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been established in Maastricht, the Netherlands – pooling the expertise of an international group of technological, clinical and academic organizations. Under the umbrella of Brains Unlimited, it provides a unique, integrated “open access” platform that combines state-of-the art technology with know-how (and access to patients) and internationally renowned expertise in post-acquisition processing of data in relation to Ultra-High-Field human MRI.

A newly constructed facility houses three Ultra-High-Field Full Body MRI scanners of 9.4, 7, and 3
Tesla which are intertwined in functions:
• The 3T Prisma scanner is very advanced and multipurpose, making it attractive for many kinds of
clinical and non-clinical applications.
• The 7T scanner is on the edge of the clinic (announced 2017) and developing the next wave of
scientific breakthroughs into the working of the brain and other body functions – which, if
required, could then be translated to utility at 3T and other clinical and non-clinical purposes.
• The 9.4T is being developed for clinical purposes, based on the experience with the 3 Tesla and 7
Tesla machines, and will provide unparalleled insights into the working of the brain and other
body functions.
Scannexus is the (business oriented) vehicle for the management, operations and exploitation of
this open access facility, as well as providing a single transactional entity for the development and
delivery of projects utilizing the scanner facility and elements carried out within our clinical and
academic, but also (national and international) industry and research partners. This facility and
delivery network provides, as a full contract research organization, also a range of services to
pharma- and biotech partners with an interest in understanding disease, measuring response to
treatment and visualizing therapeutic impact. In addition, Scannexus provides the professional
interface for the Executive education program in the principles and applications of MRI.
Ultra-High-Field MRI provides new levels of insights into human anatomy and function, opening up a
range of possibilities with implications for medical diagnosis and treatment.
To illustrate this:
Anatomy: The potential to improve spatial resolution to a range of 100-200μm will enable
visualization of (for example) different layers of the cerebral cortex - with impact on the
diagnosis of diseases such as early dementia, epilepsy and small-vessel stroke, as well as
understanding of vascularization, myelin pathology and other phenomena.
Function: The enhanced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) enables higher resolution (submillimetre)
functional imaging. This leads to the possibility of columnar-level imaging
providing insights about the ‘neuronal code’ within specific brain regions.
Molecular: A key advantage of moving to ultra-high field is the improvement seen in
(functional) spectroscopy - brought about by the higher sensitivity and specificity (spectral
dispersion). As a result, it is possible to reliably identify many metabolites that are invisible
with standard MRI. This opens up many opportunities for cardiology, oncology,
psychopharmacology and many other (clinical and non-clinical) disciplines.

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