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[2019/08/29] The First “2 in 1” Small Animal Imaging Device in Asia is Operated by the TVGH - NYMU Team with the Aim of Accelerating New Drug Development

The TVGH - NYMU Team at the “small animal 7T micro PET/MRi” operating ceremony on July 23


This year, National Yang-Ming University purchased a 7T micro PET/MRI, a device costing over 100 million NT$, and installed it at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of Nuclear Medicine. This advanced level device will be used as an imaging tool in animal experiments and will help to accelerate the process of developing new drugs. Since the beginning of operations of the 3T PET/MRI by Taipei Veterans General Hospital last year, the Taipei Veterans General Hospital - National Yang-Ming University Team becomes one of the few research divisions that have both clinical imaging equipment and small animal “2 in 1” imaging equipment. This setup seeks to improve the development of precision medicine and translation medicine to create world class research.


NYMU Brain Research Center Director Wang remarked that the first requirement of precision medicine is to be able to rapidly and accurately diagnose a patient. These two pieces of equipment are able to produce high resolution complimentary images that can be used in the study of a wide range of human diseases. These diseases range from brain and neurological disorders to cancer analysis. During clinical health checkups and diagnosis, functional PET scanning and anatomical MRI are two distinctly different imaging techniques. They both need to be operated separately and the patient is required to prepare for two completely separate checkups. However, with the new “2 in 1” imaging equipment, not only are we able to obtain these two types of detailed images at the same time, but it is also possible to precisely locate subtle changes in biochemical concentrations and/or tiny structural changes that related to suspected disease. This device allows us to save time and money and also shows us the effect of synergism, namely that “1 + 1” can be greater than “2”.


7T micro PET/MRI, market value over 100 million


In addition, using the advantages of this equipment, which are the provision of molecular imaging, non-invasiveness and immediacy, it is possible to repeatedly and immediately observe a small animal reacting to a new drug. With this information, we can then make immediate changes to improve the drug, which decreases the cost of failure, greatly reduce the mortality among experiment animals and accelerates the development of new drugs. The use of this system is estimated to decrease the time required for drug development by one third and to decrease drug developmental costs by one quarter.


NYMU Brain Research Center Professor Lin remarked, this small animal “2 in 1” imaging technique was developed at the end of 2015. Until this moment, all of the other research divisions have only had one type of imaging equipment. Since 2016, National Yang-Ming University had begun to plan for the purchase of the “2 in 1” equipment. Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of Nuclear Medicine has a national level medical cyclotron, and therefore we have been able to directly apply synthetic radioactive drugs, which has overcome the difficulty of transporting such drugs. Thus, after discussion, the TVGH - NYMU Team decided to install the “2 in 1” imaging device at Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of Nuclear Medicine with the aim of aiding new drug development and helping medical research in general. This is also the only place in Asia where the German manufacturer has set up a demonstration facility.


Currently, the core small animal imaging equipment at National Yang-Ming University consists of an optical image, a CT imaging, and other similar equipment. These are all the latest models in Asia. With the new “2 in 1” imaging equipment and the clinical resources provided by Taipei Veterans General Hospital, National Yang-Ming University hopes to develop Taiwan’s number one translational medical team.



  NYMU Brain Research Center Director Wang (left picture center), doctoral student Tsai (left), a team member and Professor Lin (right picture)