On November 13, KAIST announced its team led by Professor Cho Kyu-sung of the Nuclear and Quantum Engineering Department joined by researchers from Sogang University, Seoul National University, and the National NanoFab Center successfully developed h “PET-MRI Fusion Imaging System,” noted as a piece of next-generation medical imaging equipment.
A PET-MRI is the latest medical imaging technology which combines an MRI’s anatomical imaging with a PET’s functional imaging. It allows for early diagnosis of cancer and especially dementia with its ability to obtain both the anatomical and functional status of the human body. It is considered a key piece of equipment for new pharmaceutical developments as well.
However, the PET-MRI market has been dominated by a few foreign global enterprises such as GE, Siemens, and Philips. Domestic medical facilities had difficulties with installing the equipment and dealing with the high prices, ranging from 7-10 billion won (US$6.5-9.3 million). Therefore, the research team expects this new development to become a foundation for upgrading the level of domestic medical technology offerings.
To be specific, the current PET-MRI procedure consists of taking separate PET and MRI images then combining them later, which increases examination time and errors depending on a patient’s movement. On the other hand, Professor Cho and his team solved this problem by creating a singular system which attaches and detaches the brain-PET module and the MRI head coil from a full-body MRI scanner. This is more convenient, precise, and even more affordable to produce.
The research team developed a new silicon photomultiplier sensor to be used in strong magnetic fields, and a PET imaging restructuring program based on these silicon photomultiplier sensors. Also, the team secured a technology that allows RF Shielding to use a PET and MRI at once, and a separate head coil to be connected to the PET for scanning brains only. In June, the team successfully obtained PET-MRI fusion imaging of the brains of three test group members.
Professor Cho said, “Using a PET-MRI will increase precision in early diagnosis of dementia and other brain diseases, as well as allow a groundbreaking reduction in check-up costs,” and added, “The market related to PET-MRI is expected to continue growing, so we are looking forward to creating higher value-added businesses.”