PhD secondment at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

Tuesday 06 Nov 18
by Signe Rømer Holm


Jan Henrik Ardenkjær-Larsen
Head of Department, Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 45 25 57 57


Vitaliy Zhurbenko
Associate Professor
DTU Space
+45 45 25 38 20

PhD student Mohammed Albannay from DTU’s Center for Hyperpolarization in Magnetic Resonance (HYPERMAG) has recently enjoyed a secondment at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

Albannay’s research is funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions as part of Innovative Training Network EUROPOL ( The mission of the EUROPOL partners is to develop new applications for Hyperpolarization - a novel technology which dramatically increases the Magnetic Resonance signal - using different techniques. The main focus of Albannay’s PhD project is to overcome technical challenges to raise the substrate polarization level whilst reducing the time needed to achieve high polarization. 

Hyperpolarized Metabolic Magnetic Resonance (MR) allows us to follow changes in cell metabolism in real-time and non-invasively. As many diseases start with metabolic changes (diabetes, cancer, inflammation, heart disease etc.) long before any physical changes can be observed, Hyperpolarized Metabolic MR is fostering many exciting new applications.

One of the most compelling applications is as an evaluation tool for clinical oncology. Eight university hospitals around the world have now obtained approval for clinical studies using Hyperpolarizated Metabolic MR on cancer patients, utilizing the hyperpolarized signal to follow tumor reaction before, during and after treatment – without biopsies or latency. First results indicate earlier diagnosis, and ability to stage cancer progression and follow treatment impact more accurately.

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is one of the sites conducting research as well as pre-clinical and clinical trials in hyperpolarized Metabolic MR. Albannay’s experience from HYPERMAG in MR instrumentation facilitated the construction of several coils for in vivo imaging in 7 and 9.4 T pre-clinical MR scanners. His primary focus at Cambridge was on building a TX/RX quadrature 8-rung 13C birdcage coil. Preliminary tests indicate that the coil provides the sensitivity and homogeneity needed to image the whole body of a small animal; a desirable feature for high-field angiography experiments.

Thanks to the Brindle Group at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute for hosting Mohammed Albannay during his secondment, and to Prof Arnaud Comment and his team for supervision and support. 

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