Hyperpolarized MR is a new metabolic imaging method to monitor enzymatic conversions through key biochemical pathways previously inaccessible. Therefore this technology presents an opportunity to dramatically improve our ability to identify and understand human disease, and to ultimately translate these techniques into the clinic for improved, more individualized patient care.
Hyperpolarized MRI using Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) is a powerful new imaging technique which uses specialized instrumentation to provide signal enhancements of over 5-orders of magnitude for 13C enriched compounds. The resulting hyperpolarized solution then can be injected in a MR scanner to detect not only the uptake of the targeted molecule but also its metabolic products in vivo using rapid 13C MR acquisitions. Since hyperpolarized 13C MR spectroscopic imaging encodes chemical as well as spatial information, this new molecular imaging technique allows the simultaneous detection of multiple biologic compounds and metabolic products. This extraordinary new technique has the potential to become a major new MR metabolic imaging technique by providing valuable new information on previously-inaccessible aspects of biological processes by detecting endogenous, nontoxic 13C-labeled probes that can monitor enzymatic conversions through key biochemical pathways. Hyperpolarized 13C MR has generated great interest in the imaging community and is becoming increasingly widespread with Oxford Instruments recently reporting that they have sold 37 commercial HyperSense DNP polarizers of which 10 are focused on in vitro studies and 27 for in vivo studies (since the first installed in 2006 at UCSF). There are an additional 5+ prototype, custom-built DNP polarizers being used in university preclinical research, bringing the total to ~30 sites thus far. With the increasing interest and number of DNP polarizers, we feel it is timely and beneficial to this emerging field to establish a Hyperpolarized MRI Technology Resource Center to develop, investigate, and disseminate new hyperpolarized MR techniques, new 13C agents and specialized analysis open-source software for data reconstruction and interpretation. The Technology Research & Development projects will leverage the extensive DNP facilities and experience of the project leaders to develop improved, robust hyperpolarized MRI methods. These technology developments will be driven by Collaborative Projects led by outstanding clinical and basic scientists who aim to use hyperpolarized 13C MRI to accomplish the scientific goals of their funded research. These technical developments will also be disseminated to the Service Project investigators for extramural feedback and then widely to the scientific community via a dedicated website and onsite training. This center will provide state-of-the-art training in this new metabolic imaging field and sponsor a yearly symposium focused on hyperpolarized MR technology development.