Darstellung eines menschlichen Oberkörpers mit Gehirn, Herz und Gefäßen


3D and detailed

Magnetic particle imaging (MPI) is a method of medical diagnostics that aims to improve the diagnosis of vascular diseases. Two Hamburg physicists unveiled the technology in 2005.

Tumors and vascular diseases are life-threatening evils of our times. In industrialized nations, coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the main causes of death and disability. According to the American Heart Association, CHD causes over a third of all deaths in people aged over 35. But there is hope that the potential for screening and early diagnosis is improving: at the beginning of the millennium, physicists Bernhard Gleich and Jürgen Weizenecker from the Philips Research Laboratory in Hamburg developed a new method of medical diagnostics called magnetic particle imaging (MPI). MPI could enable more detailed diagnostic imaging in real time.

Hope for better diagnostic methods: the MPI method

MPI technology consists of a two-step process. Before the examination, the patient is administered a nanofluid containing tiny superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs). Through their magnetic charge, SPIOs can transmit detailed images of vascular pathways. A magnetic field makes the SPIOs detectable. With the help of 3D imaging software, doctors receive three-dimensional images of, for example, tumors or vascular diseases, with a spatial resolution of up to 0.5 mm. The technology also enables the transmission of live images during surgery, so the patient’s body reactions can be monitored in real time.

Bernhard Gleich and Jürgen Weizenecker first wrote about their method in a 2005 article in the scientific journal “Nature”. MPI has been undergoing clinical trials since 2014, and the first preclinical MPI scanner is in use at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). For their invention, the physicist duo won the 2016 European Inventor Award.

(Image: PIC4U – AdobeStock.com)

Place of invention

Philips GmbH, Innovation Services, Philipsstraße 8, 52068 Aachen