Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) methods have been used widely in the past decades as a safe, non-invasive and non-radioactive method of diagnosing CVDs. However, because of their limited sensitivity, even the most expensive MRI scanners cannot detect and visualize molecular and metabolic activity in the heart with sufficient sensitivity and specificity.

To this end, emerging hyperpolarized MRI techniques play a pivotal role as they allow increasing the sensitivity of MRI by up to five orders of magnitude. Unfortunately, the hyperpolarization process takes a very long time (90-180 minutes per procedure), it is extremely costly and cumbersome (>$2million initial cost, room size equipment) and requires temperatures colder than -270 degrees Celsius. 

Precision diagnostics and personalized treatment using quantum physics

The method, termed "Hyperpolarized MRI", will allow imaging and visualization of key metabolic substrates in the heart and other organs (e.g., kidney, liver) via hyperpolarization of nuclear spins of substrates that are natural to the body and non-toxic.

In this way, a number of important metabolic reactions can be tracked non-invasively. This breakthrough technology will enable a previously unachievable, highly sensitive quantification of metabolic activity, paving the way for precision diagnostics and better-personalized treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

For example, it will become possible to distinguish patients who will most likely benefit from invasive or pharmacologic cardiac interventions from those who will need other medical treatment and to accurately diagnose patients at the disease's early stages.

The MetaboliQs project will leverage the transformative features of diamond nitrogen vacancies (NV), such as high quantum coherence and quantum control, to offer a breakthrough in Cardiac Hyperpolarized MRI: A low cost and high-throughput diamond polarizer that can be used with an MRI scanner and show results within minutes instead of hours required per procedure.

This unique utilization of quantum coherence is made possible by new technology to atomically engineer diamond material (quantum-grade diamond), including 12C isotopic purification, precise control of nitrogen defect concentration and nanofabrication of the diamond surface.

The MetaboliQs consortium, through its combination of leading research institutes and innovative companies, provides the end-to-end expertise required to reach the ambitious objectives of the project and develop breakthrough capabilities in hyperpolarized MRI for cardiovascular applications.
MetaboliQs brings together a world-class multidisciplinary consortium:

1. Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics in Freiburg, Germany, a leading diamond quantum technology research institute and frontrunner in quantum-grade diamond growth and fabrication.

2. N Vision Imaging Technologies GmbH, Germany, Silicon-Valley backed Quantum Tech Company and inventor of diamond-based polarization,

3. Element Six (UK) Limited, a world leader in research and production of synthetic diamond with a track record in the quantum space,

4. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), Israel, leading diamond quantum technologies research institute,

5. Bruker BioSpin GmbH- the market leader in preclinical MRI and NMR spectroscopy and two of the top technical universities in Europe with research groups in hyperpolarized and cardiovascular MRI:

  1. ETH Zurich in Switzerland
  2. The Technical University of Munich, Germany.