Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Blamire

Professor of Magnetic Resonance Physics

Background

Role

I am Director of the Centre for In Vivo Imaging (CIVI) which brings together our expertise across a broad range of imaging modalities applied to in vivo biomedical research, including MRI, PET, PET-MRI and fluoresence imaging (www.ncl.ac.uk/civi).  I also lead the MR physics team at the Newcastle MR Centre whose role is to develop new scanning methodology to address hypothesis led research in our clinical populations (www.ncl.ac.uk/magres).

Research Overview

I am Coordinator of the BIOIMAGE-NMD programme, an FP7 funded consortium of 6 academic and 3 SME partners across Europe working to develop MRI and PET methodology as outcome measures for clinical trials in patients with neuromuscular diseases (www.bioimage-nmd.eu).

I run the central imaging analysis for the TIRCON study where advanced MRI methods are being used to evaluate changes in brain iron levels in patients with PKAN in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of Deferiprone (www.tircon.eu).

I coordinate imaging analysis for quantitative assessment of muscle degeneration (fatty replacement) in a longitudinal, natural history (clinical outcome) study of patients with dysferlinopathy, funded by the JAIN foundation (jain).

Partnerships

  • Member of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Disease
  • Member of the UK Biobank Expert Working Group on Imaging
  • Secretary to the British Chapter of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM, www.ismrm.org/british)
  • Part of the MYO-MRI COST action


Research

Research Interests

My personal research programmes revolve around developing and applying novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectroscopy (MRS) methodology as diagnostic and prognostic values and as outcome measures in interventional trials. 

Neuroimaging - Dementia

Recent studies using quantitative relaxation imaging (T1 and T2), diffusion tensor imaging, cerebral blood flow imaging (arterial spin labeling) and metabolic measurements by proton MR spectroscopic imaging have revealed different patterns of neurodegeneration between patients with Alzheimer's disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  Current work, funded by the Newcastle NIHR BRU in Lewy Body Dementia, is applying MRS spectral editing techniques to examine the role of the excitatory neurotransmitter GABA in the symptoms of visual hallucinations which are common in patients with Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Neuromuscular imaging

Within the BIOIMAGE-NMD programme my group  is developing diffusion sensitive MRI methods based on the stimulated echo method (STE-DWI) as a probe of tissue microenvironment.  The objective of this work is to quantify changes in muscle fibre size distribution which is a feature of tissue degeneration and regeneration in muscular dystrophy.  We aim to develop STE-DWI as a tool to measure muscle decline and response to intervention in patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

With funding the Horizon2020, the VISION-DMD we are establishing an imaging protocol for a major international clinical trial of VBP15, an innovative steroid-like intervention for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

A third project funded through MRC Confidence in Concept is looking at how MRI can be used to image neuromuscular motor unit activity as a non-invasive alternative to needle based EMG measurements.

Responsive contrast agents for molecular MRI

With funding from EPSRC I am working with Prof David Parker at Durham University to develop a new range of molecular MR contrast agents which are directly detected by the MR acquisition and are responsive to their environment, providing quantitative readout of physiological parameters such as tissue temperature and pH.  These new agents are based on the paramagnetic shift between a lanthanide ion and a reporter group within the molecule and have been termed PARASHIFT agents.

Other projects include:

  • Development of 7Li MR imaging
  • Studies of cardiac and brain function in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Studies of fatigue and autonomic dysfunction in Sjogren’s Syndrome (Arthritis Research UK funded)

More details can be found at the MR Centre website www.ncl.ac.uk/magres

Teaching

I am Module Lead for the Imaging with Non-Ionising Radiation speciality on the MSc in Clinical Sciences (Medical Physics) course.

Publications