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Niskayuna, NY, United States, 2010/01/27 - GE researchers receive nearly $3.3 million NIH award to develop smaller, cryogen-free magnet that reduces system costs, make siting easier in underserved areas. NYSE: GE
GE technology could help reach over 10,000 hospitals, serving millions of people globally.
Working to expand access of state-of-the-art medical imaging to underdeveloped regions around the world, GE Global Research, the technology development arm for the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), has been awarded a four-year, $3.27 million award from National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new magnet technology that will make MRI systems less costly and easier to site.
In magnetic resonance imaging, the magnet is the key part of the system that enables detailed images of tissue inside the body to help doctors and clinicians make critical diagnoses. To obtain images with such high resolution and quality, the magnet must be kept at super cool temperatures of -269 degrees Celsius. That’s only a few degrees above absolute zero and as cold as outer space. Cryogenic liquids, or liquids at ultra-low temperatures, are used today to keep the magnet this cool.
Because cryogenic liquids are used, special venting and other room specifications must be met that can make MRI systems more costly and difficult to site. As part of this project, GE researchers are developing a cryogen-free magnet that would considerably reduce these costs and siting requirements.
“The use of cryogenic liquids limits where MRI systems can be placed today, and we want to change that so more people around the world can have access to this vital diagnostic imaging technology,” said Minfeng Xu, Principal Investigator on the MRI magnet project from GE Global Research. “By developing a cryogen-free magnet, we can reduce the overall size, cost and siting requirements of new MRI systems and make them easier to site in areas where the infrastructure is not as well-developed.”
The magnet GE researchers are developing will be smaller in size and require less wire to support an MRI scanner. The reduction in wire would also help reduce the overall cost of an MRI system.
“The whole idea is to create a more highly mobile, less costly MRI system platform that delivers the same high resolution and quality of imaging for patients,” Kathleen Amm, Lab manager, Electromagnetics and Superconductivity added.
A key strength of MRI scanners is the ability to differentiate various soft tissues inside the body. Clinicians typically use them for brain, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal imaging as well as for imaging of the body’s major organs.
The development of a lower-cost mobile MRI platform would help support GE’s healthymagination vision by expanding MRI use into underserved communities worldwide. Healthymagination represents GE’s commitment to drive new technologies and products that reduce costs, improve quality and increase access to healthcare.
The principal objective of the program is to develop technologies that enable low-cost whole-body MRI systems that are easier to site and maintain the highest degree of image quality. With the successful development of the proposed magnet technologies, MRI systems can be realized with cost and sitability requirements comparable to today’s low-cost permanent magnet systems (magnetic field of 0.2 – 0.35 T), but with a high magnetic field (1.5 – 3.0T) and excellent image quality comparable to existing mainstream and premium superconducting systems.
About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems.
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