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Pioneering Technology for Biomedical Imaging / Launch at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is funding the world's first magnetic particle imaging (MPI) equipment. The MPI unit was formally handed over to Professor Dr. Gerhard Adam, Director of the Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Department and Clinic at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) on 10 July 2014. The device permits the medical imaging of small animals up to the size of a rabbit with the aim of discovering which applications might be relevant and of benefit to humans. In addition to the anticipated clinical uses, it could also have applications in materials science. "This device wonderfully demonstrates the essence of research: the fundamental enhancement of the ways in which we can observe and understand the world and its phenomena," stated DFG President Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider at the official launch in Hamburg.

"Funding this impressive equipment exemplifies the function of the DFG to facilitate research that delivers fundamentally new insights into the world's phenomena," continued the DFG President. The DFG is funding the magnetic particle imaging unit, developed by Philips Healthcare, with around 4 million euros under its major instrumentation initiative. The UKE has established a professorship for research using the new device.

Magnetic Particle Imaging is an innovative form of imaging technology that uses magnetic measuring methods. It can be used to show the distribution of magnetic nanoparticles in an organism with extremely fine quantitative and spatial resolution. Very high temporal resolution is another feature of the MPI process. Development is currently still at the experimental phase, but there are indications of a wide range of topics in basic research offering benefits over established processes. Potential clinical applications for MPI include cardiovascular diagnosis and detection and tracing of magnetically marked cells. The new procedure also promises significantly enhanced opportunities for investigations in oncological imaging.

MPI is also a technology-based area of research in which Germany plays a leading role worldwide. Under its major instrumentation initiative, the DFG will also fund a second MPI device, which is expected to become operational late this summer at the Charité Clinic at the University of Berlin. The DFG's major instrumentation initiative is an annual programme to allow researchers fast access to new research technology, which is still in an early stage of development, and to enable the investigation of completely new research areas and approaches.

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