French Research Team Helps Extend MRI Detection of Diseases & Lower Health-Care Costs

CEA, INSERM and G2ELab Brings Grenoble Region’s Expertise In Advanced Medicine & Magnetism Applications to H2020 IDentIFY Project

MRI detection
Three Grenoble-based research and medical partners have been selected to join the European Union-funded IDentIFY project to significantly extend the capability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in disease detection.
The four-year IDentIFY project brings together the complementary expertise of universities and research centers in U.K, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and Poland. It is coordinated by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland U.K.
The French IDentIFY partners are CEA (led by Leti, a CEA Tech institute, and Inac), INSERM, and G2ELab.
The project, which is part of the EU Horizon 2020 program, was initiated by INSERM. It aims to further develop and help commercialize a characterization technique, called Fast Field-Cycling (FFC) MRI to obtain quantitative, disease­ related information that is invisible to standard MRI. Unlike standard MRI, in which scanners operate at a strong, fixed magnetic field, FFC-MRI scanners pioneered by the University of Aberdeen yield images of living organisms at varying low values of the magnetic field by fast switching of this field from high to near-zero values.   This technique can deliver a wealth of unprecedented medical information at a lower cost than conventional MRI.
“This technology presents a huge opportunity to cost-effectively improve health care, especially for cancer, one of the world’s fastest-growing diseases,” said Marie Semeria, CEO of Leti, a CEA Tech institute. “The three Grenoble-based partners in the IDentIFY project are a strong testament to the area’s concentration of expertise in health care and advanced magnetism technology, and its many applications.”
Previous work on Fast-Field Cycling MRI at Aberdeen has shown it can have a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases. In fact, pilot studies have demonstrated the technology’s ability to detect cancer, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength as part of the aging process.
With cancer, FFC-MRI will enable tumor grading, treatment planning and monitoring of the response to chemotherapy, and especially the characterization of peritumoral regions. 
In addition, Fast Field-Cycling MRI has the potential to detect early changes in the brain caused by neurodegenerative disease processes. This may enable early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. 
For over 50 years, following the French physicist Louis Néel (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1970), the Grenoble region has been recognized as a global leader in research and development of magnetism for advanced technological purposes. This expertise eventually resulted in a very accurate control of static and time-dependent low and ultra-low magnetic fields, which is a key challenge for FFC-MRI to work efficiently. For that purpose, precise measurements, mathematical modeling and real-time magnetic shielding will be implemented for the FFC NMR/MRI devices, thanks to the shared know-how of the G2ELab laboratory and Leti, which are working closely together on this ambitious project.
The contributions of the Grenoble participants to the IDentIFY project are:
  • CNRS/UGA/Grenoble INP: Environmental field measurement and modelling
  • Leti: Development of magnetic field correction coils and their associated electronics
  • INSERM: MRI methodology, tissue-bank testing and validation
  • Inac: Decades of experience in FFC-NMR relaxometry methods and measurements and the information that can be extracted from them through theoretical modelling. Linking of scientists to create the project and beyond.
In addition to Aberdeen University, other project participants include the Stelar Company (S.r.l., Mede, Italy), which has developed the first commercial FFC-NMR instruments; the University of Warmia and Mazury (Olsztyn, Poland), the Ilmenau University of Technology (Ilmenau, Germany) and the International Electric Co. (Helsingfors, Finland).
About G2ELab (CNRS/UGA/Grenoble INP)
The “Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique” (CNRS) is a government-funded research organization under the responsibility of the French Ministry of Research. With 34,000 persons, 1,140 research units spread throughout the country, CNRS carries out research in all scientific fields of knowledge. Moreover, CNRS conducts interdisciplinary programs, one major objective being to promote interdisciplinarity to improve knowledge, ensure economic and technological development or solve complex societal needs. Its budget amounts to 3,415 billion Euros. The Grenoble Electrical Engineering Laboratory (G2ELab / UMR n°5269) set up by CNRS, Grenoble Institute of Technology and Université Grenoble Alpes covers a wide spectrum of expertise in the field of Electrical Engineering. Its activity can be summarized by the following keywords: electrical energy, materials, innovative processes and systems, modeling and design methods and softwares. The research carried out in G2Elab ranges from long term research up to collaborative research supported by a strong involvement in Partnerships with large companies and SMEs. With more than 100 permanent staff, 110 PhD and 50 Masters, G2Elab appears as a major actor both nationally and internationally in these areas.
About INAC (France)
According to the last report of the French High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), the Institut des Nanosciences et Cryogénie INAC of the CEA-Grenoble is a world-class institute producing fundamental and multidisciplinary research with a real willingness to valorise important findings through relevant partnerships with industry/technology developers. It hosts physicists for a larger part, but also chemists and biologists, providing an impressive panel of scientific expertise at a quite high level. More precisely, it covers several highly relevant research activities ranging from nanoscale physics to chemistry and technology at the frontier of biology, encompassing photonics, spintronics, several technologies for energy and health, and cryogenic engineering.
About INSERM (France)
Founded in 1964, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) is a public scientific and technological institute which operates under the joint authority of the French Ministry of Health and French Ministry of Research. As the only French public research institute to focus entirely on human health, in 2008 INSERM took on the responsibility for the strategic, scientific and operational coordination of biomedical research. This key role as coordinator comes naturally to INSERM thanks to the scientific quality of its teams and its ability to conduct translational research, from the laboratory to the patient’s bed.
About Leti (France)
As one of three advanced-research institutes within the CEA Technological Research Division, Leti serves as a bridge between basic research and production of micro- and nanotechnologies that improve the lives of people around the world. It is committed to creating innovation and transferring it to industry. Backed by its portfolio of 2,800 patents, Leti partners with large industrials, SMEs and startups to tailor advanced solutions that strengthen their competitive positions. It has launched 54 startups. Its 8,500m² of new-generation cleanroom space feature 200mm and 300mm wafer processing of micro and nano solutions for applications ranging from space to smart devices. With a staff of more than 1,800, Leti is based in Grenoble, France, and has offices in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Tokyo. Follow us at and @CEA_Leti.