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UK government invests $39 million in total-body PET imaging platform for drug development

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 09, 2023
Molecular Imaging
Siemens Healthineers' Biograph Vision.X PET/CT scanner
The U.K. has launched a first-of-its-kind $39 million (£32 million) national total-body PET imaging platform that will enhance research efforts around developing and commercializing new drug therapies for treating complex diseases along with diagnostic regimens for identifying them early on.

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), and Innovate UK devised the National PET Imaging Platform (NPIP) to collect new anatomical insights, including how different patients respond to new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and more; and create a data bank that clinicians using PET imaging can access and incorporate these findings into their own research programs and trials.

For this endeavor, NPIP will use two total-body Biograph Vision Quadra PET/CT scanners designed by Siemens Healthineers, with one managed by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, and the other by King’s College London and Imperial College London in their homestead city.
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The aim is to accelerate the development and commercialization of these drugs, with the total-body PET systems increasing the timeliness of research by eliminating the need to reposition patients multiple times, and performing scans faster. These solutions also reduce radiation dose exposure among patients, allowing more patients, including children, to participate in clinical trials that improve researchers’ understanding of diseases.

“It will set a new standard of excellence for U.K. medical imaging research, unlocking innovative discoveries and attracting the international research community to conduct clinical trials on British soil,” said Dr. Juliana Maynard, director of operations and engagement for NPIP and head of translational imaging at Medicines Discovery Catapult, in a statement.

The 78-cm bore total-body Biograph Vision Quadra PET/CT scanner captures images in near-real time using Optiso Ultra Dynamic Range detector technology that has a time-of-flight of 178 picoseconds, the fastest in the industry, and 48-mm3 volumetric resolution. This increases performance by 20% for faster throughput and reduces radiation exposure and radiotracer costs. It also uses the AIDAN intelligent imaging platform, which is built on more than 700 machine- and deep-learning patents from Siemens Healthineers.

Medical experts hope that NPIP will help them better understand how different diseases interact with the body in harmful ways, such as when they metastasize, and provide them with advanced imaging capabilities and a bigger pool of patients who can take part in clinical trials.

“The National PET Imaging Platform will open opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises operating within the drug discovery sector, giving them access to state-of-the-art equipment and invaluable data to progress their innovations faster and deliver better outcomes for patients. This advance strengthens the U.K.’s capabilities and will support many businesses in the pharmaceutical R&D space,” said Dr. Stella Peace, executive director for healthy living and agriculture at Innovate UK.

Funding came from the British government through the U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Fund.

The scanners are scheduled to become operational in April 2024.

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