Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer with poor survival rates despite improved understanding of its genetic causes; novel treatments in lymphomas offer survival benefits for some people with lymphomas, but when treatments fail, the median survival time is ~5 months. One reason for these poor treatment responses is the complex way in which cancer cells adapt their energy production, through a process called metabolic reprogramming. A lot of current research is therefore focused on producing a better understanding of metabolic reprogramming, so as to inform the development of effective treatments.
MRI is usually based on signals from hydrogen in water and fat, but it is also possible to make images based on signals from deuterium. As there is only a very small amount of naturally occurring deuterium in our bodies, after feeding someone with a compound containing deuterium the signal we detect mainly comes from ingested material. Measuring deuterium signals following ingestion of labelled glucose allows us to track metabolic processes involved in energy production in brain tissues. We have implemented this deuterium metabolic imaging (DMI) approach on our 7T scanner, and this PhD project will focus on applying DMI to understanding metabolic reprogramming in aggressive glioblastoma and lymphoma tumours.
Preliminary studies have demonstrated the feasibility of DMI, and the successful candidate will expand on this work by refining the acquisition protocol for regular clinical use across a range of MRI platforms (3T, 7T and 11.7T). The candidate will also explore the use of novel RF coils, MR sequences and other deuterated labelling molecules. This multi-disciplinary project presents an exciting opportunity to combine cutting-edge brain tumour research, MR physics and dynamic spectral analysis. The student will be supported in all these aspects by supervisors based at the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, The Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre and The Centre for Human Brain Health.