Research objectives and content
This project is concerned with the development of a radio frequency Proton-Electron Double-Resonance Imaging (PEDRI) instrument. PEDRI is a technique that combines nuclear magnetic resonance imaging with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) in order to image free radicals in living animals. The project will investigate the potential combination of PEDRI technique with radio frequency Fourier-Transform (FT) EPR imaging. To this purpose optimal coil designs and active damping methods will be studied to simultaneously optimise the requirements for PEDRI and FT-EPR resonators. In field-cycled PEDRI the applied magnetic field is switched between two levels during the imaging pulse sequence, with the EPR irradiation being applied at very low field and the NMR detection taking place at higher field. This increase the PEDRI sensitivity and reduce the radio frequency power deposition in the sample. Low-inductance gradient coils for field-cycled PEDRI techniques will be designed, and integrated with a multipolar magnet that operates at about 100 Gauss. A direct comparison between PEDRI and FT-EPR imaging will be made in terms of
sensitivity/resolution/acquisition time. The main aim is to study the optimal designs and experimental conditions for in vivo detection of free radicals.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
All research in PEDRI is currently based in Europe with active groups in Aberdeen, Delft, and Strasbourg. The complementary technique of EPR imaging also has a strong European research base in L'Aquila, Surrey, Leicester.
The Applicant, Dr. Alecci, has worked in the research group in L'Aquila, directed by Prof. A. Sotgiu, since 1987. The Applicant was the recipient of two Marie Curie Fellowships (HCM Programme, 1994/08-1995/08; and TMR Programme, 1996/08 -1997/08) to work at Aberdeen University on the development of PEDRI. Here he worked on the design of innovative multi-tuned resonators for use in PEDRI. Currently, the Applicant is exploring the use of a string of short inversion EPR irradiation pulses to increase the maximum PEDRI enhancement.
The project proposed in this Return Grant will permit the transfer of knowledge and experience acquired in the field of PEDRI by the Applicant at the home laboratory of L'Aquila University. In fact, the proposal is the natural continuation and integration of the research projects developed by the Applicant at Aberdeen University (Supervisor, Dr. D. J. Lurie). This will extend and improve the strength of the research group in L'Aquila and mantain the scientific collaboration with Aberdeen University. Hopefully, this will ensure that the European Union is able to maintain its leadership in this field that offer many potential bio-medical applications.