Scannexus (Brains Unlimited B.V.)Scannexus - Brains Unlimited B.V.


Kim Feron
Oxfordlaan 55, 6229EV Maastricht
Organised as a joint initiative / joint venture of Maastricht University, Province of Limburg and Academic Hospital Maastricht

A European Centre of Excellence in Ultra-High-Field 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 Human 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 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. In 2021 we want to move forward and update the 7T scanner.
• The 9.4T is used for experimental research on and being developed for clinical purposes, based on the experience with the 3 Tesla and 7 Tesla machines, providing unparalleled insights into the working of the brain (e.g. at the level of fundamental units of neural computations, such as cortical columns, cortical layers, and subcortical nuclei) 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.Ultra-High-Field imaging 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:
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 (sub-millimetre) 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 improvements 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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