Scientists and clinicians from Aberdeen University are on the brink of another global MRI breakthrough, which could save thousands of lives, by an early diagnosis of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis and other disorders.
A prototype of an MRI scanner has been developed which provides up to 100 different images, compared to one image from current MRI scanners.
Two prototypes of the new scanner have already been built and Aberdeen University researchers are working to perfect the technology.
The world's first full body MRI scans of a patient was conducted in 1980 by Aberdeen University researchers. It was hailed at the time as the biggest improvement in medical diagnostics since the discovery of X-rays in 1895.
MRI has become one of modern medicine's most important diagnostic tools all over the world since the first scan to highlight the tumors on the patient's liver was done.
The developments by Professor John Mallard and his team in 1980 earned Aberdeen University tens of millions of pounds.
Professor David Lurie and a team of university and industrial collaborators - physicists, engineers, chemists, biologists and medical scientists - have been awarded 2.5 million pounds from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to build the working scanner over the next four years.
According to Professor Lurie, standard MRI allows images from inside a patient's body to be taken using a single magnetic field, which is set when the machine is installed.
The new technique, which has proved successful in principle and in tissue trials, should allow images of the patient to be taken at several different magnetic fields.
Says Lurie:"It's a bit like having at our disposal a hundred or more MRI scanners, each one operating at a different magnetic field - but all in the one scanner.
"It will be of use in research and diagnosis into conditions such as Parkinson's disease, which involves proteins in the brain, Alzheimer's disease, which also involves proteins in the brain, multiple sclerosis and, potentially, cancer", he added.
Non-clinical uses like measuring protein changes during food processing, are also foreseeable, according to the scientists.