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SAFIR - From the Prototype to the Full-Scale Scanner

English title SAFIR - From the Prototype to the Full-Scale Scanner
Applicant Dissertori Günther
Number 189776
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Institut für Teilchen- und Astrophysik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Biomedical Engineering
Start/End 01.09.2020 - 31.08.2021
Approved amount 221'800.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Biomedical Engineering
Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Cardiovascular Research
Physiology : other topics

Keywords (3)

PET insert; Multimodal Molecular Imaging; Positron Emission Tomography

Lay Summary (German)

Die Universität Zürich (UZH) und die ETH Zürich (ETH) profitieren dank ihres Animal Imaging Centers (AIC) von einer hervorragenden Infrastruktur für molekulare Bildgebung, sowohl für die präklinische als auch klinische Forschung. Dieses Projekt plant die Bereitstellung eines weiteren Forschungsgerätes für das AIC, nämlich ein weltweit einzigartiger präklinischer Positronen-Emissions-Tomographie Scanner, welcher die Erfassung dynamischer molekularer Prozesse mit unerreichter Zeitauflösung und gleichzeitige Magnetresonanz-Tomographie erlauben wird.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel

Das involvierte interdisziplinäre Forschungsteam (ETH, UZH, Universitätsspital) hat vor kurzem einen ersten Prototypen des SAFIR (Small Animal Fast Insert for mRi) Scanners erfolgreich entwickelt und getestet. Dank der hiermit erworbenen Kenntnisse soll nun eine vollständige Version des Scanners zur Abdeckung eines grösseren Raumwinkelbereichs  entwickelt und gebaut werden. Dieser wird das Forschungsspektrum des AIC bzgl. multimodaler Bildgebung signifikant erweitern. Nur zwei von vielen Beispielen hierfür sind: Molekulare Bildgebung mit hyperpolarisiertem [13C] und [11C] markiertem Pyruvat für kardiologische und neurologische metabolische Studien, oder quantitative multimodale Perfusionsstudien mit [15O]-markiertem Wasser.  

Wissenschaftlicher und gesell. Kontext

Dank dieser Neuentwicklung wird das AIC eine der sehr wenigen weltweiten Einrichtungen sein, welche derartige integrierte multimodale Erforschung dynamischer Prozesse erlaubt. Diese Bildgebung wird einen signifikanten Einfluss auf Forschungsgebiete wie Kardiologie und Neurologie haben. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 19.11.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
163892 Age-dependent Remodelling of the Female Heart - Protective or Detrimental? 01.06.2016 SNSF Professorships
157763 MobiPET: A mobile, small animal PET scanner for molecular imaging 01.03.2015 R'EQUIP
170683 Predicting outcome after stroke: take a look at the other side 01.09.2017 SNSF Professorships
156803 Development of New Folate-Based RadioImaging Agents and RadioTherapeutics 01.04.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)


The University of Zurich (UZH) and ETH Zurich (ETHZ) offer an outstanding molecular imaging infrastructure for basic and clinical research at their Animal Imaging Center (AIC). Recently we have completed the development of the high-performance dedicated PET insert SAFIR (Small Animal Fast Insert for mRi) for simultaneous PET/MR imaging of small animals in pre-clinical Bruker BioSpec 70/30 USR MRI (Magnet Resonance Imaging) systems. With the present pro- posal, we seek financial support to complement the existing scanner (currently covering 20% of the ultimately foreseen axial coverage) with additional detector rings to increase its axial field of view to 178 mm and boost its sensitivity to 11.8%. The main feature of SAFIR is its high-speed acquisition of annihilation coincidences, permitting to operate at injected dose rates of 500 MBq and beyond. This enables dynamic imaging with unprecedented ultrashort time frames of ~1 s per frame, de-facto filming the evolution of the tracer distribution as desired for the observation of fast metabolic processes.The proposed PET/MR system will considerably increase the capacity of multimodal PET imaging at AIC and will be a key element to advance state-of-the-art multimodal molecular imaging at ETH and UZH. Our one-of-its kind PET/MR system will be an invaluable novel research tool, as it allows the simultaneous acquisition of fast dynamics of molecular readouts, which are difficult or impossible to obtain with separate devices. One example is the simultaneous use of hyperpo- larized and radiolabeled molecular probes (e.g., hyperpolarized pyruvate and carbon-11 labeled pyruvate). To our knowledge, the AIC would be one of the very few institutions worldwide, where such integrated multimodal research is possible and the impact on research fields, such as cer- ebral or cardiac metabolism, are expected to be significant. We propose several seed projects to be carried out with SAFIR: 1. Molecular imaging using hyperpolarized [13C] and [11C] labeled pyruvate for cardiac and cerebral metabolic studies, 2. The development of quantitative perfusion imaging across the modalities using [15O]-H2O-PET and arterial spin labeling fMRI, 3. [15O]- H2O-PET and arterial spin labeling fMRI to investigate the no-reflow phenomenon after stroke and understand microvascular failure, 4. Imaging cardiac perfusion using [18F]-flurpiridaz and [13N]-ammonia in mice in the context of sexual dimorphism and 5. PSMA-PET versus MRI in a mouse model of prostate cancer. These initial projects highlight the potential of true hybrid measurements and acquisition of fast PET kinetics in small animals. Further research projects will be able, e.g., to link metabolic processes and brain perfusion for studying the mechanism underlying neural activity and neurovascular coupling, or the implications of ligand-receptor interactions on functional activity in various tissues. The AIC will be one of the very few institu- tions worldwide where kinetic quantitative preclinical PET/MRI research is possible, with the potential of a significant impact in research fields such as neuroscience, cardiology and oncology.