Current studies

See details of the POLARIS research studies currently in progress.



MRI and MBW, to Assess Ventilation in Cystic fibrosis

This 2-year longitudinal study explores the value of hyperpolarised gas magnetic resonance imaging (HP MRI) and multiple breath washout (MBW) in the assessment of lung function in cystic fibrosis.

MMAVIC is made up of a cohort of adults and children, across a range of disease severities.


Advanced proton, hyperpolarised 3-helium and 129-xenon magnetic resonance imaging for lung cancer radiotherapy planning and evaluation

HeXeRT is a study to see if using new types of MRI and CT scans can help doctors better understand how well lung cancer is treated by radiotherapy.

It also looks at how well the healthy lung (the lung not affected by cancer) is working before and after radiotherapy.

Investigation into prognostic indicators of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) using structural-functional pulmonary MRI assessment

This IPF study involves patients with the condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which causes lung scarring. The study aims to discover more about the role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in these patients.

The patients have MRI scans and breathing tests over a period of 12 months to assess this.

Use of Functional MRI to understand the pathophysiology of abnormalities of gas exchange in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and systemic sclerosis

This study explores new ways to image lung tissue in patients with different types of lung disease, including patients with IPF and systemic sclerosis.

Patients are traditionally scanned using X-rays but the new technique using MRI means that the patient isn’t exposed to radiation. This new technique allows us to see how air travels into the lung and how oxygen is transported into the blood.


Respiratory Health in Neonatal Outcomes

Grant: MR/M022552/1

RHiNO is a paediatric study with subjects from 3 different cohorts. Children who are born prematurely have breathing problems like wheezing or shortness of breath but the cause of this is unknown.

The technique developed by us can detect the structure of the lungs in far more detail. This technique is used on children born prematurely (who do and do not have breathing symptoms) and they are compared with the results of children who are born on time.


Combination of lung MR imaging with physiological assessment to identify and monitor ventilation heterogeneity in early CF lung disease

This study involves a cohort of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and healthy volunteers. Respiratory infection remains the main cause of illness in CF.

Early treatment with antibiotics combined with airway clearance techniques has been shown to slow or halt the course of the disease. Blowing tests (spirometry) are to insensitive to identify the early signs of disease. Chest X-rays appear normal until significant lung damage has occurred.

CT offers a more sensitive way of imaging the airway but patients are exposed to radiation. However, 3He MRI can detect the changes in the lungs which could indicate early detection.

Combining the MRI technique with breathing tests allows for early antibiotic treatment before lung disease becomes irreversible.


The Lung Structure And Function after Abdominal Surgery study

LUNGSAFAS explores the changes that occur in the lungs during and after surgery. Lung-and-breathing-related problems are the most common major issues in the time after a surgical operation.

There are several contributory factors to these problems, including the effects of the surgery itself, the body’s reaction to major surgery, the way air is blown into lungs to support patients during surgery and the fact air passages in the lungs tend to close up as patients relax when they go to sleep.

This can be made worse by problems with deep breathing after surgery related to pain, lack of coughing and mobility and inflammation in the body. All these effects contribute to problems with breathing after major operations that in some cases can cause respiratory failure or pneumonia. Two techniques are used to test lung function in this study, Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) & MRI.

Functional MRI and PET-CT in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

This study is being carried out in collaboration with Castle Hill Hospital.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a disease that leads to scarring of the lungs causing breathlessness. Some people with IPF progress slowly with only mild symptoms while others progress quickly becoming very breathless with increasing disability and ultimately death.

Although techniques are being studied to try and identify those at risk of progressing quickly there is no widely available tool that can achieve this.

This study explores new ways of scanning the lungs to provide information about their structure, extent of scarring and how well the lungs are functioning. This helps to see if these scans can help identify individuals at risk of progressing quickly and use the pictures obtained to improve the understanding of how lung scarring effects the function if the lungs over time.


MRI to Identify Changes in Healthy Ageing Lungs

MICHAL looks at how environmental pollutants effect the lungs. As people get older pollutants such as cigarette smoke can lead to changes in the lungs.

This study uses MRI to explore these changes in more detail. Using MRI allows us to see what structural and functional changes occur in the lungs in people as they get older as well as in people who smoke but are otherwise healthy.


Development of Imaging biomarkers for the detection and monitoring of drug induced interstitial lung disease (TRISTAN)

Funding information

TRISTAN tests whether newly developed lung MRI and CT scans can be used to diagnose Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) and monitor patients who have ILD.

In particular, if the new scans are better at detecting and monitoring ILD compared with current tests. ILD is a condition where inflammation and scarring occurs in the lungs, making patients breathless.

When developing new medications, it is important to be able to identify if the new drug could harm the lungs causing ILD in which case it may not be further developed. Current tests don’t always accurately pick up ILD in the early stages or detect improvements.

In some patients it can be difficult to tell if the ILD has occurred due to a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or whether the drugs used to treat the condition are in fact harming the lungs.

As a result of this study it’s hoped that a new type of test for diagnosing and monitoring ILD patients can be used to assess safety of new drugs and to assess ILD patients in clinic.

Read more about the TRISTAN project


Lung magnetic resonance Imaging with Fluorocarbon Tracer gases

Funding information

LIFT is being carried out in collaboration with Newcastle University.

The study is looking at developing new ways of measuring lung function using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is being done to develop new ways of diagnosing and monitoring respiratory diseases.

This study uses Fluorocarbon that can be seen on MRI after being inhaled safely during the scan. The scans give images of the tracer gas in the lungs and shows any regions of the lungs that are not working well. The study consists of three cohorts made up of healthy volunteers, COPD patients and Asthma patients.


Developing MRI technology and expediting into clinical research and practice.