Portable MRI for multiple sclerosis: Feasibility establishment and technical development for clinical and research applications

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important tool for diagnosing and monitoring multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease which affects millions of people. Unfortunately, current clinical MRI scanners are expensive to purchase and operate, have long wait times, and are often inaccessible for people in remote areas or with mobility issues. Recently, the world’s first portable and easy-to-use MRI scanner was developed by a commercial company (Hyperfine), and it will be available at the UBC MRI Research Centre in early 2021. Because this portable MRI scanner has a very low magnetic field and a small size, it has few safety concerns and can be easily brought to people anywhere. This platform will vastly improve MRI accessibility for clinical use, and make large-scale MS research possible. However, the portable MRI scanner’s ability to detect MS lesions in the brain needs to be tested. My project will compare the portable MRI scans with standard clinical MRI scans in terms of image quality for MS brains, and come up with a guideline for the use of portable MRI in MS. This work will be the first application of portable MRI to MS clinical care and research, and the ultimate goal is to bring MRI technology to everyone with equal opportunity.