Current studies

Information about POLARIS research studies currently in progress, and recently completed.


Current Studies

AdPRO: Advanced Diagnostic Profiling Sub-study of NOVELTY (NOVEL observational longiTudinal studY)

Further information about this study
This is an imaging sub-study of the larger NOVELTY study, involving longitudinal assessment of patients with a diagnosis of asthma and/or chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). The main aims of the study are to better phenotype patients based on 129Xe MRI and advanced pulmonary function testing (PFT) metrics, to evaluate the relationships between MRI, PFTs and other clinical metrics, and to describe the progression of MRI indices over time.

ASPECT-PCD: Assessing Personalised Airway Clearance Techniques in Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia

Further information about this study
This study aims to inform the personalised use of airway clearance techniques in patients with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) - a rare, genetic condition characterised by mucus build-up and recurrent respiratory airway infections. Hyperpolarised gas MRI in combination with 1H structural MRI is being used to assess short-term response to ACT regimens.

C-MORE: Capturing the MultiORgan Effects of COVID-19

Further information about this study
The CMORE study is a longitudinal observational study of multi-organ proton MRI changes in patients who have had COVID-19. The study - led by the University of Oxford - investigates the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the lungs, heart, brain, liver and kidneys at multiple sites across the UK. In Sheffield, we are undertaking the lung image analysis for this study.

Clinical Referrals

We receive a number of referrals from clinicians across the region and nationwide for respiratory MRI scans to assist in diagnosis / management of respiratory conditions. 

This is covered under an MHRA Specials licence (MS-18739) for manufacture of hyperpolarised gases.

Publications resulting from this study:

CONVALESCENCE: COroNaVirus postAcute Long-term EffectS: Constructing an EvidENCE base

Further information about this study The CONVALESCENCE study - led by University College London - explores the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the mechanisms underlying them. It is a comprehensive multi-organ study. In Sheffield, we are undertaking the lung MRI image analysis for this study.

EASY MRI: Evaluating Airway Sarcoidosis pathologY with MRI

This study aims to better understand the pathophysiology of sarcoidosis - a rare condition characterised by inflammation and scarring - in particular when the airways are involved. We are using a multimodal approach to assess changes in lung function after the use of inhaled corticosteroids, using hyperpolarised 129Xe MRI alongside pulmonary function testing and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.

ELECTRA: EarLy dEteCtion and treatment of lung function decline post lung TRAnsplantation

Further information about this study
This study - led by the University of Manchester - aims to use novel tools to assess lung function changes associated with obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) - a condition that causes small airway obstruction - after lung transplantation. Structural and functional lung MRI is being used alongside multiple breath washout (MBW) and forced oscillation technique (FOT), to assess ventilation heterogeneity and how it changes over time in the presence of OB.

EXPLAIN: Hyperpolarised Xenon Magnetic Resonance PuLmonary Imaging in PAtieNts with Long-COVID

The EXPLAIN study is an observational study which uses 129Xe lung MRI to study lung function in patients experiencing ongoing breathlessness due to COVID-19. The aim of the study is to identify and characterise lung function in patients with long COVID. The study is a multi-centre study, which will recruit 400 participants at Oxford, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester. Participants will include hospitalised long-COVID patients, non-hospitalised long COVID patients and controls.

LUMRIS: LUng MRI for RIsk Stratification to select non-small cell lung cancer patients for radical treatment

The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of introducing advanced functional lung MRI techniques into the current lung cancer diagnostic pathways across a cancer network and to assess its impact on multi-disciplinary team (MDT) decision-making for risk stratification of non-small cell lung cancer patients.

MURCO: Multi-nuclear MRI in COVID-19

The MURCO study aims to use multinuclear lung MRI methods to investigate the patho-physioloigical changes in the lungs of patients who have had COVID-19. It is a longitudinal study, with patients undergoing pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and lung MRI examinations at approximately 6, 12, 24 and 52 weeks after hospitalisation due to COVID-19 pneumonia. The study will allow a comprehensive assessment of lung structure and function over time and may illuminate some of the mechanisms behind ongoing symptoms in patients who have had COVID-19.

SUMMER: A pilot Study of the Use of 129Xe and 1H MRI to measure the Modulation of Eosinophil-Related inflammation by Mepolizumab in COPD

Further information about this study

This study aims to utilise functional lung MRI to measure the effects of anti-eosinophil therapy in patients with eosinophilic COPD who have frequent exacerbations. Short- and long-term response to the monoclonal antibody drug Mepolizumab will be assessed in terms of prevalence of exacerbations and MRI biomarkers of inflammation.

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

Further information about this study

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. 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. 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.

Past Studies

VIPS-MRI: Ventilation, Inflammation, Perfusion & Structure MRI

Further information about this study

VIPS is a multi-site collaborative study with Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital, Hannover Medical School, and the POLARIS team. The aim of the study is to develop an MRI approach that provides information about lung ventilation, inflammation, perfusion and structure in a single MRI examination to assess cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease.

Publications resulting from this study:

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

Further information about this study

This study involved a cohort of children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and healthy children. 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. Spirometry is insensitive to identify the early signs of disease and 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, without using ionising radiation, which could allow early detection and treatment before lung disease becomes irreversible. This study found 3He MRI to be more sensitive to subclinical lung disease than CT or multiple-breath washout for the detection and monitoring of early disease.

Publications resulting from this study:

HeXeRT: Helium & Xenon MRI in Radiotherapy

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.

Publications resulting from this study:

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.

Publications resulting from this study:

LIFT: Lung magnetic resonance Imaging with Fluorocarbon Tracer gases

Further information about this study

The LIFT study involves the use of inhaled fluorocarbon tracer gas and 19F-MRI to investigate lung function. The main aims are; (i) to assess differences in lung ventilated volume between healthy volunteers and patients with COPD and asthma; (ii) to evaluate the effects of bronchodilator therapy on lung function with 19F-MRI. This is a multi-centre study led by Newcastle University, with MRI being performed in both Newcastle and Sheffield.

MRI and MBW, to Assess Ventilation in Cystic fibrosis

Further information about this study

This 2-year longitudinal study explored 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 was made up of a cohort of adults and children, across a range of disease severities.

Publications resulting from this study:

RHiNO: Respiratory Health in Neonatal Outcomes

Further information about this study

Children who are born prematurely can have breathing problems like wheezing or shortness of breath but the cause of these are unknown. The RHiNO study uses 129Xe MRI techniques to image ventilation and alveolar microstructure, and multiple breath washout to measure ventilation heterogeneity, to assess children born prematurely (who do and do not have breathing symptoms) and children who were born on time.


Developing MRI technology and expediting into clinical research and practice.