Diego Hernando, Ph.D., and Professor Scott Reeder, M.D., Ph.D., have been awarded a $2 million RO1 NIH grant to fund a multi-center, multi-vendor study to validate a new UW-developed MRI method, for accurate quantification of iron overload in the liver within in a single breath-hold. Excessive accumulation of iron in various organs, including the liver, which affects both adult and pediatric populations, is toxic and requires treatment aimed at reducing body iron stores.
This study will validate a rapid magnetic resonance-based confounder-corrected R2* mapping method as a quantitative imaging biomarker of liver iron concentration (LIC). Measurement of LIC is critical for detection and staging of iron overload, and for monitoring iron-reducing chelator therapies, treatments which are quite expensive and can have severe side effects. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a widely available, accessible, and safe technology, and is very sensitive to the presence of iron in tissue. This study aims to validate that the use of this R2*-MRI method to measure LIC meets the requirements for broad clinical use.
R2*-MRI holds the greatest promise to meet these requirements, compared to other available MRI methods. R2* mapping can be performed very rapidly with whole-liver 3D coverage in a single 20-second breath-hold. Past work has demonstrated excellent correlation and linear calibration between R2* and LIC. However, the performance and reproducibility of this technique for in vivo liver iron quantification across different sites and platforms have yet to be validated.
This multi-center study includes Stanford University, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, and UW-Madison, as well as the three main MRI vendors, GE, Siemens, and Philips. It will evaluate different field strengths (1.5T and 3T), in both adults and pediatrics with liver iron overload. If successful, this study will provide a universal and standardized method to assess body iron content with widespread impact and clinical applicability.