Four million euros to develop new form of MRI scan

6 May 2020• NEWSITEM

Over the coming years, 15 young researchers will be working on a new form of quantitative medical imaging with MRI. A 12-member consortium led by the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) received a four million euro grant from the European Commission for this research.

Prof Hildo Lamb is coordinating the NOVA MRI project.LUMC Professor of Radiology Hildo Lamb is coordinating the project, which is called NOVA-MRI. The aim is to develop new contrast agents that can be used in the hospital for precision medicine. To achieve that aim, the consortium is recruiting 15 young researchers.


The researchers will focus their efforts on Fluorine-19 (19F), a substance that can be detected by an MRI scanner. Lamb: “The advantage of 19F is that it is not radioactive and is hardly present naturally in the human body, so that we do not get any background noise on MRI scans. We can use it as a contrast agent to measure the blood flow in organs and tumours, and to create images of blood vessels. We can also link a substance to the 19F nanoparticle so that it binds specifically to things we want to image, such as blood clots, plaques in the arteries, cancer cells or stem cells.”

Variety of fields

A whole research programme has to be worked through to reach the stage of applying 19F-MRI in the hospital. For this reason, the young researchers come from a variety of fields, so that every link of the chain is covered, from chemically stabilising the 19F nanoparticle and linking it to disease markers, to developing the necessary MRI hardware and software for recording the images, and analysis tools for evaluating the images. “We will start in laboratories, before moving on to animal experiments, and an initial application in humans is also planned in the final phase,” adds Lamb.

On May 12th 2020 the project will launched with an online kick off meeting. The project, with the full title NOVA-MRI, Novel Application of 19F Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is funded with a grant from the H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions– Innovative Training Network.  On the website, you can find more information about the partners and the individual projects.

Stay informed on the latest news of the Leiden University Medical Center, and sign up for our biweekly newsletter or subscribe to our LUMC Magazine.