A Helium-3 Hyperpolarizer for Enhanced Lung MRI

Period of Performance: 03/12/2001 - 02/28/2002


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Liquid Crystal Technologies
Summit, NJ 07902
Principal Investigator


In the last few years, a new method of MRI has been developed using hyperpolarized noble gases (3He and 129Xe) as MRI enhancers. These enable vacuous spaces, such as the lungs, sinuses, bowel and uterus to be imaged by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. There is the further advantage, that the progress of the gas as it enters the body can be tracked. 129Xe also dissolves in the blood, and its circulation there can be tracked. This is a promising new diagnostic technique now being actively pursued in the USA, France, and Germany. Its full potentials have yet to be discovered. The aim of this Phase I proposal is to bench test the feasibility of our design of a machine for routine production of hyperpolarized 3He at an MRI site for use when required. Construction and prototype development are planned for Phase II. This machine would be portable and automatic so that one medical technician with standard training can operate it. As hyperpolarized gases cannot yet be reliably transported over long distances, it would have an advantage for remote locations. Another important advantage is that it would be more economical than buying hyperpolarized gases from a central facility. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: Using hyperpolarized 3He to enhance lung MRI is a promising new tool for earlier diagnosis of lung cancer. While on-site production of hyperpolarized 3He finesses important unresolved issues of their transport over long distances, there is no commercially available machine to do this. Our proposed device may eventually be perferred over delivery from a central facility. Estimated initial US sales on the order of $30,000,000 with estimated world wide sales topping $300,000,000.