For over two decades at University College London there has been use of an in vivo model to investigate neonatal hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) and assessing possible new therapies to protect the brain. This study is unique in that it uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) both for outcome biomarkers but also as a real-time measure of experiment parameters. In each experiment the subject is scanned on three consecutive days, quantitatively tracking the effectiveness of a trialled therapy whilst receiving intensive care.
The development of the MRI compatible incubators (in collaboration with University College London and Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A.) was motivated by the need to simplify the transport procedure to and from the MRI scanner, and also to allow the use of multiple MRI scanners: a pre-clinical 9.4T MRI scanner, and a 3T clinical MRI scanner. The pre-clinical system is favoured for its high field strength which is more optimised for in vivo imaging, however given the translational nature of the study, using a clinical MRI scanner has obvious benefits as the same sequences can be used that will be used in clinical scanning of babies for HIE. This necessitates a mobile solution, incorporating all of the life-support systems required for intensive care, all of which must operate within the vicinity of an MRI scanner.