The world’s largest health imaging study launched to create the biggest collection of scans of internal organs

The world’s largest health imaging study launched to create the biggest collection of scans of internal organs

19/04/2016 0 Di puntoacapo

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maxresdefaultThe world’s largest health imag­ing study, fund­ed by the Med­ical Research Coun­cil, Well­come Trust, and the British Heart Foun­da­tion is launched today. It will cre­ate the biggest col­lec­tion of scans of inter­nal organs, and trans­form the way sci­en­tists study a wide range of dis­eases, includ­ing demen­tia, arthri­tis, can­cer, heart attacks and strokes.

The £40m study will involve imag­ing the brain, heart, bones, carotid arter­ies and abdom­i­nal fat of 100,000 cur­rent par­tic­i­pants of UK Biobank, a vision­ary project set up in 2006 by the MRC and Well­come Trust to cre­ate a research resource of half a mil­lion peo­ple across the UK to improve health.

The mul­ti-organ scans will be analysed along­side the vast data already col­lect­ed from UK Biobank par­tic­i­pants. This extra lay­er of data, for all health sci­en­tists to access, will give new per­spec­tives on the best way to pre­vent and treat mul­ti-faceted con­di­tions like arthri­tis, coro­nary heart dis­ease, Alzheimer’s dis­ease and osteo­poro­sis. It will also spark nov­el ways to analyse and inter­pret scans, with poten­tial ben­e­fits for research as well as for the inves­ti­ga­tion of patients in the future.

For the last ten years UK Biobank has gath­ered huge quan­ti­ties of data on its 500,000 par­tic­i­pants – includ­ing their lifestyle, weight, height, diet, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and cog­ni­tive func­tion, as well as genet­ic data from blood sam­ples. Link­age to a wide range of health records is also under way, includ­ing data from gen­er­al practices.

Cathie Sud­low, Pro­fes­sor of Neu­rol­o­gy and Clin­i­cal Epi­demi­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh, and UK Biobank’s Chief Sci­en­tist, said: “This very large num­ber of par­tic­i­pants involved in the mul­ti­modal imag­ing study is impres­sive enough. But what makes it tru­ly trans­for­ma­tion­al is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­bine the rich imag­ing data with the wealth of oth­er infor­ma­tion already avail­able or being col­lect­ed from par­tic­i­pants, par­tic­u­lar­ly their health and dis­eases dur­ing fol­low-up for many years to come.”

Dr Sara Mar­shall, Head of Clin­i­cal Research at the Well­come Trust, said: “Cap­tur­ing such a vast num­ber of images of the human body, in both health and ill­ness, will chron­i­cle dis­ease in a way nev­er attempt­ed before.

“Each day we’re dis­cov­er­ing more and more about how genet­ics and lifestyle play a part in the onset and devel­op­ment of dis­eases, but this extra piece of the puz­zle – see­ing phys­i­cal changes even before symp­toms devel­op – will give us a com­plete­ly new per­spec­tive on how we can pre­vent and treat them.”

An ini­tial study of 8,000 par­tic­i­pants has just been com­plet­ed at a pur­pose-built scan­ning facil­i­ty at UK Biobank’s head­quar­ters in Stock­port, which is now being used for the main study. The peo­ple scanned do not receive any feed­back about their health, unless poten­tial­ly seri­ous abnor­mal­i­ties are spot­ted dur­ing the imaging.

Imag­ing will include:

  • MRI assess­ment of heart cham­ber diam­e­ter, the vol­ume of blood flow, and how the heart changes as it pumps blood around the body, thick­ness of the heart wall and the size, shape and stiff­ness of the tho­racic aor­ta, the ves­sel that deliv­ers blood from the heart
  • MRI mea­sures of brain struc­ture and func­tion, vol­umes of grey mat­ter and the map­ping of major brain connections
  • Dual-ener­gy X‑ray absorp­tiom­e­try mea­sures of bone den­si­ty, osteoarthrit­ic change at spine, hip and knee, frac­tures in the spine, and fat dis­tri­b­u­tion through­out the body
  • MRI mea­sures of abdom­i­nal fat vol­ume includ­ing in the liv­er and pancreas
  • Ultra­sound assess­ment of two major arter­ies, the carotid arter­ies, that run either side of the neck to the brain

Recruit­ment will con­tin­ue in the north west of Eng­land, and will roll out to the south (Read­ing) and the north (New­cas­tle) over the com­ing year.

Eleanor Green Senior Media Offi­cer,  Well­come Trust
+44 (0)20 7611 8491/ 07808 736272

About the Well­come Trust
The Well­come Trust is a glob­al char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing health. We sup­port bright minds in sci­ence, the human­i­ties and the social sci­ences, as well as edu­ca­tion, pub­lic engage­ment and the appli­ca­tion of research to medicine.

Our invest­ment port­fo­lio gives us the inde­pen­dence to sup­port such trans­for­ma­tive work as the sequenc­ing and under­stand­ing of the human genome, research that estab­lished front-line drugs for malar­ia, and Well­come Col­lec­tion, our free venue for the incur­ably curi­ous that explores med­i­cine, life and art.

About the British Heart Foun­da­tion (BHF)
Coro­nary heart dis­ease is the UK’s sin­gle biggest killer. For over 50 years we’ve pio­neered research that’s trans­formed the lives of peo­ple liv­ing with heart and cir­cu­la­to­ry con­di­tions. Our work has been cen­tral to the dis­cov­er­ies of vital treat­ments that are chang­ing the fight against heart dis­ease. But so many peo­ple still need our help. From babies born with life-threat­en­ing heart prob­lems to the many Mums, Dads and Grand­par­ents who sur­vive a heart attack and endure the dai­ly bat­tles of heart fail­ure. Join our fight for every heart­beat in the UK. Every pound raised, minute of your time and dona­tion to our shops will help make a dif­fer­ence to people’s lives.

For more infor­ma­tion vis­it

About the UK Biobank Imag­ing Expert Work­ing Group
UK Biobank has a num­ber of expert work­ing groups which were estab­lished to help improve the resource. The imag­ing group mem­bers are:

  • Chair: Pro­fes­sor Paul Matthews (Impe­r­i­al Col­lege London)
  • Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor Nao­mi Allen (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford/UK Biobank)
  • Pro­fes­sor Jim­my Bell (Uni­ver­si­ty of West­min­ster London)
  • Pro­fes­sor Andrew Blamire (New­cas­tle University)
  • Pro­fes­sor Sir Rory Collins (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford/UK Biobank)
  • Mr Steve Gar­ratt (UK Biobank)
  • Dr Tony Gold­stone (Impe­r­i­al Col­lege London)
  • Pro­fes­sor Nicholas Har­vey (Uni­ver­si­ty of Southampton)
  • Pro­fes­sor Alan Jack­son (Uni­ver­si­ty of Manchester)
  • Pro­fes­sor Paul Lee­son (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford)
  • Pro­fes­sor Kar­la Miller (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford)
  • Pro­fes­sor Ste­fan Neubauer (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford)
  • Dr Tim Peak­man (UK Biobank)
  • Pro­fes­sor Stef­fen Petersen (Barts Heart Cen­tre & Queen Mary Uni­ver­si­ty of London)
  • Pro­fes­sor Stephen Smith (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford)
  • Pro­fes­sor Cathie Sud­low (Uni­ver­si­ty of Edinburgh/UK Biobank)
  • Sec­re­tari­at: Ms Nico­la Doher­ty (UK Biobank)