Brain imaging

Brain imaging

We aim to develop sensitive  imaging biomarkers for use in clinical trials enabling shorter trials with smaller numbers.

We are also developing sensitive and specific imaging measurements to understand disease mechanisms, including:

  • Markers of neuroinflammation to track its development in time and space after stroke or brain tumour and to understand its role in cognitive decline.
  • Functional re-organisation of the brain following a tumour and its removal, to guide surgical intervention and oncological therapy.

In adddition, we will leverage shared imaging facilities to add research protocols to clinical scans, particularly in the acute setting, enabling the development of diagnostic and predictive disease models as well as accelerating clinical translation.

Among our current translational research projects are:

brain scans

Characterising brain pathology in early dementia

This work aims to help identify who will go on to develop dementia and when.

Simultaneous PET-MR allows us to characterise both the burden of amyloid plaques in the brain using PET along with neuronal and vascular pathology using MRI. Research led by Professor Karl Herholz and funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK will use simultaneous PET-MR imaging in patients with mild cognitive impairment to determine which aspects of pathology predict disease progression. The project uses MRI measurements developed from EPSRC-funded work to Dr Laura Parkes.

child's brain scan

Cerebral blood flow measurements in children with brain tumours

This work is looking to identify the best individual treatment for brain tumours in children.

Conventional MRI often cannot inform on the type and grade of brain tumour. Arterial spin labelling is an advanced MRI measurement of cerebral blood flow that can improve tumour phenotyping and better predict outcome. This can help make difficult decisions about how best to treat brain tumours. MRI physicist Dr Laura Parkes contributed to the development of arterial spin labelling and worked together with neuroradiologist Dr Stavros Stivaros to implement this measurement on the MRI scanner in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Research theme leads: Dr Laura Parkes and Professor Stavros Stivaros