Healthy volunteers for a research study testing a new type of PET-MRI scan
The purpose of this research is to test a new imaging technique which we hope will help us to learn more about mitochondrial disease and the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondria are the compartments in every cell of the body which generate the energy to allow the body to function normally. Mitochondrial disease is a group of conditions that are caused by mitochondria that are unable to produce enough energy for the body’s needs. There is a theory that Alzheimer’s disease is also caused by mitochondria in the brain that are no longer working correctly. Mitochondrial function has never been measured in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s before so it is not known whether this theory is accurate.
We have developed a new technique that is able to measure mitochondrial function in the brain using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MRI is a safe non-invasive method of making pictures of the inside of the body.
One of the things we do know about Alzheimer’s is that certain areas of the brain use less glucose than in a healthy brain. Glucose is a type of sugar that is used by the body to produce energy. A different medical imaging technique called fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography (FDG-PET) can be used to make pictures showing how glucose is used in the body. This procedure uses ionising radiation, which can cause cell damage that may, after many years or decades, turn cancerous. We are all at risk of developing cancer during our lifetime. The normal risk is that this will happen to about 50% of people at some point in their life. Taking part in this study will increase the chances of this happening to you from 50% to 50.02 %.
A PET-MRI scanner is able to perform both PET and MRI scans at the same time. This means that we can measure how glucose is being used and how the mitochondria are functioning in the same scan. We would like to investigate whether damaged mitochondria are causing the brain to use less glucose. We are asking healthy people aged 65 to 80 years to take part in this study because we need to compare measurements from healthy people to those from people with mitochondrial disease and people with Alzheimer’s disease.
We are seeking five healthy volunteers, meeting the following criteria:
- Aged 65 – 80 years: It is important that the group of healthy participants are approximately the same age as the group of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
- No known neurological condition: Participants should not have any known conditions that could affect the measurements.
- English speaking: It is important that we are satisfied that volunteers have understood what they are consenting to and that they understand the safety information they are provided with.
- No implanted metal or metallic devices (e.g. pacemakers, nerve stimulators, metallic plates): These would make a person unsuitable for MRI scanning.
- No known renal impairment: The PET scan involves injection with a radioactive tracer. We need to be sure that this will be cleared from the body in a timely fashion.
- No diagnosis of diabetes: We will ask participants to fast for six hours before their scan because high blood sugar can affect the measurements.
What will I be asked to do?
We would be grateful if you would agree to help us by having a PET-MRI scan. This would be carried out using one of our research scanners at the University Campus for Ageing and Vitality. The PET scan could be affected by your blood sugar level so we ask you not to eat any food for 6 hours before your appointment. Before your scan, we will use a finger prick test to take a small amount of blood and measure your blood sugar level to make sure that it is not too high.
If your blood sugar is in the right range, an intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into your arm and used to inject the FDG radiotracer. After injection, you will lie still and rest for half an hour to allow the FDG to circulate around your body.
You will lie on the PET-MR scanner couch with your head positioned inside the RF coil, which is an antenna for detecting MRI signal. The couch will be moved inside the scanner and you will lie still while the pictures are taken.
The MRI and PET scans will take place at the same time and will take a maximum of one hour. When the scan has finished, you will be offered a drink and a snack, and will be able to leave whenever you are ready. Before the scan you would be asked some basic questions about your health history to ensure there are no reasons why you could not be scanned.
When and where?
Your scan will take place at the Newcastle PET Centre at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle University.
Your appointment will be arranged for a time and date that is convenient for you, sometime in January.
Will I get anything for taking part?
Travel expenses will be reimbursed.
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