The SUBLIMA project aims at truly simultaneous, fully integrated, solid-state PET/MR technology for concurrent functional and anatomical imaging with unsurpassed image quality. It will combine the extremely sensitive functional imaging possibilities provided by PET with the excellent soft-tissue contrast and complementary functional imaging capabilities of MR. For the first time, time-of-flight (TOF) and depth-of-interaction (DOI) correction will be introduced together into a PET/MR system. SUBLIMA will also be the first to exploit the unique advantages of truly simultaneous PET/MR acquisition by enabling fully 4D MR-derived motion corrections. Furthermore, artefacts seen in PET-CT will be eliminated by developing MR-based, motion-compensated PET attenuation correction. The SUBLIMA platform will thus realize a breakthrough in image quality and enable novel applications in oncology, cardio-vascular medicine, and neuro-degenerative diseases.
SUBLIMA will not only introduce new methods and technologies in each important component of the imaging chain, but it will also analyse the system performance as a function of all relevant design parameters, in order to push the image quality to the physical limits by optimally merging these innovations into 7T preclinical and 3T whole-body human demonstrator systems. This integrated approach also warrants adaptation of the project results for optimum performance in stand-alone PET and SPECT applications.
The demonstrator systems will confirm earlier detection of emerging tumours due to greatly improved small-lesion detectability compared to state-of-the-art PET/CT. SUBLIMA will increase life expectancy, quality of life, and treatment success rates by enabling better PET quantification and MR localization. SUBLIMA will leverage investigations in areas such as translational medicine, Parkinson and Alzheimer research, and cardio-vascular diseases, in order to establish less painful and more cost-efficient treatments in the European countries.
A large part of the research is targeted towards a novel, extremely compact, scalable, MR-compatible, and versatile PET detector concept that makes use of new scintillation materials, new solid-state light sensing technology, and local, real-time, digital signal processing. SUBLIMA will thus achieve unsurpassed TOF resolution, spatial resolution, energy resolution and highly accurate depth-of-interaction (DOI) correction. Ultra-dense electro-mechanical system integration with low cross-talk will furthermore allow undisturbed MR image quality. In addition to the advances in detection hardware, novel iterative PET/MR reconstruction algorithms will use the simultaneously acquired 4D MR data for realistic, non-periodic compensation of organ and patient movements as well as for dynamic attenuation correction of the PET images.
The project will benefit from the test infrastructure realized within the scope of the FP7 HYPERImage project and from the results of the Eureka-funded PET detector project SciSiLiA. The 3T HYPERImage MR backbone allows fast in-situ evaluation of the new PET technology. This will enable a jump-start of the project as well as fast translation into clinical and preclinical applications throughout the European countries after completion of the four year project.
The consortium consists of universities, research institutes, industrial partners, and SMEs, spread over 7 different countries including the USA. While each partner has shown exceptional quality in its own field, the consortium brings together the wide and complementary range of expertise necessary to push the performance of TOF-PET/MR to the physical limits.