Castle Hill Molecular Imaging Research Centre

Molecular Imaging Research Centre on track to provide pioneering healthcare treatment

A ground-breaking £8.5m research centre to help doctors more accurately diagnose signs of three life-changing illnesses is on target for completion.

The Molecular Imaging Research Centre, under construction at Castle Hill Hospital, will improve accuracy and detection rates for cancer, heart disease and dementia in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Supported by an investment of £1.8 million from the University of Hull, the centre will build on the new imaging technologies and inventions which have been pioneered by scientists at the University to improve the health of people across the Humber region and beyond.

It is the result of a partnership between the Daisy Appeal, the University and Hull University Teaching hospitals NHS Trust to translate scientific and medical research advances into clinical use

Despite project delays due to COVID-19, completion is scheduled for the end of this year – with operation early in 2021 for the facility which is set to become an internationally-renowned scanning centre.

Steve Archibald, Professor in Molecular Imaging in the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Research Centre at the University of Hull, said: “The NHS and the University are doing fantastic work and the Daisy Appeal is the catalyst that brings it all together.

“The new centre will enable us to translate new technologies and treatments into a clinical setting enabling doctors to provide earlier detection and better treatment for their patients.”

University researchers have been working towards better outcomes for patients as a result of new diagnostic PET imaging technology for six years at the University.

Positron emission tomography is a fast-evolving medical imaging technique with huge future potential in disease diagnosis. It offers a more personalised approach to each patient, allowing selection of the most effective treatment.

The PET Research Centre at the University of Hull campus has been carrying out translational scientific and biomedical research since 2014.

Castle Hill Molecular Imaging Research Centre

The Daisy Appeal has already funded more than £1 million into the University with grants to purchase a compact cyclotron for the PET Research Centre and to support research staff.

A key benefit of the collaborative work between the University and the NHS is to bring new scientific advances to benefit patients directly.

Professor Archibald said: “The aim is to bring more trials and new treatments to the region, adding to the progress already made with cancers, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are applying for money to run clinical trials with new treatments invented in Hull that could have worldwide impact.”

The Molecular Imaging Research Centre will operate together with the Jack Brignall PET-CT Centre at Castle Hill Hospital to give local patients access to a state-of-the-art Siemens Flow Edge Scanner.

With the new centre producing fluorine-18, carbon-11 and gallium-68 based radiotracers to be delivered direct to the Jack Brignall Centre, the combined site is set to become a world leader in dose-on-demand technology.

Annual diagnostic scans for the Jack Brignall Centre have risen from 2,287 in 2015 to 3,020 in 2019, with March 2020 the busiest month yet.

The MIRC will enable scanning of other diseases including cardiac and neurological problems as well as virus research.

Nick Stafford, Chairman of the Daisy Appeal, said: “Our Molecular Imaging Research Centre will be the only fully comprehensive centre of its type in the north of England.

“The work which we are doing in Hull is already developing an excellent international and national research profile and reputation and the new centre will help us build on that.”

Claire Levy, fundraiser at the Daisy Appeal, said: “We’re overwhelmed with the support we’re receiving from businesses in the Hull and Humber area and the effort they are putting in to support the Daisy Appeal as we work to improve accuracy and detection rates for cancer, heart disease and dementia in Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.”

Since it was established in 2000, the Daisy Appeal has raised £20m to fund cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

At Castle Hill Hospital, the charity has already built an £8m research centre, which opened in 2008, and the £4.5m Jack Brignall PET-CT Scanning Centre, which opened in 2014.

David Haire, Project Director (Fundraising) for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, confirmed that despite delays as a result of COVID-19 the recruitment of specialist staff has continued for this state-of-the-art centre.

He said: “The design of the building is high tech and complements what will be the first cyclotron of its type in the country, which has this dose-on-demand facility to produce radioisotopes linked directly to the PET-CT scan centre.

“That brings a fund-raising challenge which continues in terms of the initial capital cost and the early-years running costs of the centre as research and clinical trials activity is developed.”

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