Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and NVision Imaging Technologies GmbH, an international consortium of seven research institutions and industrial companies has achieved breakthroughs in quantum microscopy for the analysis of metabolic processes and the application of Parahydrogen Induced Polarization (PHIP) within the project "MetaboliQs—Leveraging unparalleled room temperature quantum coherence to enable safe, first-of-its-kind, multimodal cardiac imaging". The results significantly advance two promising approaches for improving medical imaging diagnostics and spectroscopy by making use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) more precise, practical and efficient. Under the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) program "The Quantum Flagship", the European Union (EU) funded "MetaboliQs" since 2018.
On the one hand, the collaborators exploited the special quantum sensing properties of nitrogen-vacancy centers (NV centers) in nanostructured diamond to detect NMR signals with 1000-fold better spatial resolution compared to the current state of the art, proving that microscopic spectroscopy is suitable for metabolic analyses on single cells. On the other hand, the researchers successfully demonstrated for the first time that a PHIP quantum polarizer is feasible for high sensitivity preclinical in vivo studies, demonstrating hyperpolarized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) under real-world conditions.
Dr. Volker Cimalla, project leader at Fraunhofer IAF, classifies the results of the project: "Our approach aimed at bringing the unique advantages of diamond-based quantum sensing to medical applications. With the developed quantum microscope, we have created a unique research tool that decisively advances cell analysis and opens up new possibilities for medical research and in vitro diagnostics."
Ilai Schwartz, project coordinator on the part of NVision, emphasizes: "The developed quantum polarizer paves the way for a promising technology to realize hyperpolarized MRI. Compared to current methods, the PHIP approach has the advantage of being significantly faster, more practical, and more resource-efficient while maintaining maximum precision."
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF