Neurovascular MPI system

NIH awards $1.8 million to Magnetic Insight for neurovascular MPI

February 26, 2019
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
The National Institute of Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health has awarded $1.8 million to Magnetic Insight for development of a clinical-scale neurovascular magnetic particle imaging (MPI) system.

Presented in the form of a Small Business Innovations Research Phase II grant, the funding will be delivered over a two-year period for its project, which aims to commercialize MPI, a new imaging modality that directly detects magnetic nanoparticle tracers and can perform non-radiative 3D perfusion angiography.

“MPI is near-ideal for supporting protocols that do not yet exist, in directly measuring brain inflammation and tracking therapeutic cells (such as CAR-T cells) going to sites of pathology, such as multiple sclerosis or solid tumors,” Dr. Patrick Goodwill, chief technology and co-founder of Magnetic Insight, and leader of the project, told HCB News. “These new capabilities offer a new frontier of applications of medical imaging that could have incredible impact on patient care.”

Current technologies, such as MR, CT and nuclear medicine modalities face fundamental technical challenges for quantifying cerebrovascular disease, staging inflammation, and tracking cell-based therapies.

Using the tracers, which are not usually found in the human body, MPI provides high-quality contrast and opens up the potential for use of new applications for deep-tissue imaging of functional events and disease states.

Using blood flow, for instance, such a system could quantify cerebrovascular disease with measurements such as perfusion and angiography. Though capable of performing angiography with current imaging modalities, clinicians often struggle to use such systems in performing perfusion for measuring blood flow through small vessels due to the physics of the scanners being fundamentally designed for imaging anatomy and not tracers.

The contrast, safety and speed of MPI also help in overcoming several limitations of current neurovascular imaging protocols, and enable the diagnosis, staging and monitoring of diseases such as stroke, aneurisms, and other vaso-malformations.

“The past 30 years of medical imaging have been about squeezing every bit of information from MRI, X-ray/CT, Ultrasound, and Nuclear Medicine,” said Goodwill. “MPI gives us the first new information in decades because the physics behind MPI is unique.”

The issuance of the Phase II grant follows that of a Phase I SBIR grant in 2015 of $223,000 for development of a small-scale prototype of the system.

The project is led by Goodwill and professor Max Wintermark, chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University.