Funding boost for revolutionary lung MRI scans which could help cystic fibrosis patients manage chronic condition 

The University of Sheffield will lead one of two new Strategic Research Centres which have been awarded £1.4 million co-funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

lungs scan
  • The University of Sheffield will lead a new Strategic Research Centres to investigate whether an exciting new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be used to track subtle changes in lung health over time
  • Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong, life limiting condition with a median age of death of just 38 years old. Despite recent treatment breakthroughs, CF remains a cruel condition with no cure

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, together with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, has announced £1.4 million co-funding for two new Strategic Research Centres - one of which will be led by the University of Sheffield. 

The two new centres will target key research priorities identified by people with cystic fibrosis (CF) - a lifelong, life limiting condition with a median age of death of just 38 years old.  

Despite recent treatment breakthroughs, CF remains a cruel condition with no cure.

The Sheffield-led centre will explore whether an exciting new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be used to track subtle changes in lung health over time. This could be used to manage the day-to-day health of people with CF, as well as checking the effectiveness of new treatments in clinical trials.

The Pulmonary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Cystic Fibrosis (MAGNIFY study), will be run by Jim Wild, Professor of Magnetic Resonance Physics and Executive Director of Insigneo Institute for in-silico Medicine at the University of Sheffield. 

Researchers within the MAGNIFY SRC will be based at the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester.

Professor Jim Wild from the University of Sheffield, said: “MRI offers many advantages over current methods of assessing lung disease and is especially well suited to the new era of CF medicine – for those able to benefit from current life-changing medicines and those who are not. 

“Working with a team of clinicians, physicists, scientists, mathematicians and people with CF, we aim to make lung MRI a normal part of managing CF and reviewing new treatments in the future.”

The Strategic Research Centres (SRCs) are virtual centres of excellence bringing together researchers from within and outside of the field of CF, supporting scientists and other specialists around the world to work together to address specific issues arising from cystic fibrosis. Since 2013, Cystic Fibrosis Trust has funded 25 SRCs, assembling over 140 scientists and specialists from over 15 countries around the world – tackling everything from joint pain to gene editing.

Dr Lucy Allen, Director of Research and Healthcare Data at Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “We’re so proud to be funding the research that matters most to people with CF. We hope that these two new centres, funded jointly with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will help find new treatments, and stop CF damaging and shortening lives.”

The second SRC, Restoring the Fizz: Pharmacological repair of bicarbonate transport in cystic fibrosis, will be run by Dr Paola Vergani at University College London, and aims to better understand how the flow of bicarbonate in different organs is affected by CF. Researchers hope the SRC could inform future treatment choices and help us understand more about CF disease outside of the lungs.

Dr Paola Vergani from University College London, said: “We’re delighted to receive this SRC funding. It will allow a diverse group of CF experts around Europe to work together more easily and make faster progress. We hope that our lab-based studies will generate ideas on how to treat CF in the future, with medicines more suited to individuals based on the form of CF they have and the severity of different symptoms.”

Both SRCs will start in September 2023 and will run for over four and three years respectively.

For more information about the MAGNIFY study please visit: https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk/the-work-we-do/research/cf-research-topics/understanding-and-treating-symptoms/magnify-src-pulmonary-magnetic-resonance 

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