improve treatment
Ongoing Project

Improving Cancer Treatment

Providing enhanced patient access to state-of-the-art diagnostic PET-CT scans, enabling more accurate detection of cancers and selection of the best treatment option for the patient.

Project summary

The Challenge

The more information about a patient’s cancer, the higher the chance of finding the most effective treatment, using the most advanced PET-CT scanning.

The Approach

The University partnered with and invested in the Daisy Appeal’s £8.5 million clinical facility to provide advanced services for patients in Hull

The Outcome

Improved access to the best standard of diagnostic care for cancer patients.

Lead academics

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

Molecular imaging is a type of medical imaging that provides a more accurate picture of what is happening inside the body than more traditional diagnostic procedures such as x-rays, CT scans and ultrasound. These more advanced insights enable doctors to better diagnose cancer, analyse how far it has spread and decide which is the best treatment. Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is one of the most frequently used molecular imaging procedures. Molecular imaging is highly effective at detecting cancer, brain disorders, heart conditions and other diseases.

Such advanced diagnostic capability was not available to patients in the Humber region, necessitating long journeys to larger hospitals and leading to unsatisfactory patient treatment and poorer outcomes.



new cancer cases in the UK every year - that's around 1,000 every day (2015-2017). Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.

The full research team

The Approach

A unique consortium, made up of the University of Hull and Hull University Teaching Hospitals (HUTH) NHS Trust, has formed a partnership with the Daisy Appeal who have raised over £8.5 million investment to build a state-of-the-art Molecular Imaging Centre at Hull’s Castle Hill hospital that enables highly accurate detection of cancers and selection of the best treatment option for the patient.

The Hull Molecular Imaging Centre comprises three sites (PET Research Centre (PETRC), Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC) and Jack Brignall PET-CT clinical scanning Centre) with over £15 million total investment, and the integration of research and clinical facilities provides diagnostic and patient treatment that is among the best in the UK.

The new Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC)

Research by the University of Hull team underpinned the investment in the next generation of tracers and technologies. Professor Steve Archibald and his team have been able to synthesise radiotracers, provide radiopharmaceuticals and give biomolecular process input for projects in clinical translation, involving national and international collaborators. The research projects range from optimising the amount of drug given to patients, through improving the understanding of the biochemical processes and developing new scanning protocols, to determining the timing of scans to maximise the potential of a successful clinical outcome.

A collaborative team has been developed for molecular imaging research across multiple NHS departments and University disciplines. This ensures that service delivery for HUTH NHS is of the highest standard. The ongoing clinical trials have already upskilled the local workforce and enhanced their ability to handle an increased range of patient conditions. NHS staff have been integrated into the University teams with approximately 25 new jobs created by the development so far.

The centre will improve accuracy and detection rates for cancer, heart disease and dementia in Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

The Impact

The Molecular Imaging Centre improves patient care facilities and increases clinical trial opportunities at Castle Hill Hospital (that serves Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire). The innovative medical imaging technologies have had a huge positive impact on patient health and NHS services while facilitating international research interactions and attracting skilled workers to the region.

The team’s advances in molecular imaging science have substantially improved diagnostic scanning capabilities and patient treatment. The Jack Brignall PET-CT centre has replaced a limited capacity mobile scanner that was only based at the hospital for two days a week. This permanent fixture increased the number of scans three-fold, and its state-of-the-art equipment has improved the healthcare and experience of >12,500 patients. The availability of new types of scans tested in the University PET Research Centre has also improved the capabilities of Nuclear Cardiology at Castle Hill Hospital. These include patients with amyloid scans, sarcoidosis and drug delivery to the lung with more than 50 patients benefitting per annum.

… a continued and significant improvement in the delivery of these diagnostic services has resulted in an improved standard of patient care… this partnership approach has enabled the Scanning Centre to increase its throughput and to effectively cope with an ever-increasing number of patient scans.

David Haire

Project Director, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

The research relationship with HUTH NHS has led to the development of integrated research facilities at the hospital site and to major change in the practice and delivery of NHS radiopharmacy in Hull. These changes have improved the facilities for delivery of radiopharmacy and reduced the risk of patient service failure to ensure that all patients can receive their diagnosis as rapidly as possible.

Our facility has collaboration agreements for research with other institutions and commercial organisations. These are in place to supply tracers to Universities and research facilities, making our centre a focus for translational medical imaging research in the North of England.

What we want to do is see what’s going on inside you and see that to a great level of detail. The excitement is about what’s developing and finding signs of things like Alzheimer’s disease before they develop.
Professor Steve Archibald

Professor Steve Archibald

Project leader, Professor in Molecular Imaging

The University of Hull has hosted placement students, internships, PhD studentships and visiting scientists from countries including Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, France, Turkey and Thailand. We have provided expert training in radiochemistry technology training for researchers and healthcare professionals in the specialised area of positron emission tomography radiochemistry which has been taken back to the home countries. These researchers have moved back to skilled radiochemistry positions in their home countries.

This research project has also upskilled NHS staff with the latest technology for future patient benefit (eight NHS staff are affiliated to the University and five received additional hands-on training on campus in new radiochemistry technology). This process therefore benefits our collective research capacity as well as healthcare delivery.

Next Steps

In 2020 the University team were invited to join the UK PET Network as the leading translational molecular imaging centre in the North of England. This is a select group of seven Universities (Oxford, Cambridge, King’s College London, Imperial College London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Hull) that will develop infrastructure bids to drive innovation, clinical application and support of commercialisation. We hope that this will bring clinical studies and new commercial partnerships to the region.

In the future, the Hull Molecular Imaging Centres will improve cardiac disease diagnosis and early detection of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Associated project publications/outputs

1. Burke B.P., Grantham W., Burke, M.J., Nichol, G.S., Roberts, D., Renard, I., Hargreaves, R., Cawthorne, C.J., Archibald, S.J., Lusby, P.J. Visualizing Kinetically Robust (Co4L6)-L-III Assemblies in Vivo: SPECT Imaging of the Encapsulated Tc-99m TcO4- Anion. J Am Chem Soc. 2018;140:16877-16881.

2. Positron detection in silica monoliths for miniaturised quality control of PET radiotracers M.Tarn, D. Maneuski, R. Alexander, N. J. Brown, V. O’Shea, S. L. Pimlott, N. Pamme and J. Archibald Chemical Communications, 2016, 52, 7221 – 7224

3. Aliyu, S.A., Avery, G., Cawthorne, C., Archibald, S.J., Kadir, T., Willaime, J. M. Y., Morice, H., Hart, S.P., Crooks, M.G. Textural analysis demonstrates heterogeneous F-18 - fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in radiologically normal lung in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur Respir J. 2018;52.

4. Burke, B. P.; Miranda, C. S.; Lee, R. E.; Renard, I.; Nigam, S.; Clemente, G. S.; D’Huys, T.; Ruest, T.; Domarkas, J.; Thompson, J. A.; Hubin, T. J.; Schols, D.; Cawthorne, C. J.; Archibald, S. J., 64Cu PET imaging of the CXCR4 chemokine receptor using a crossbridged cyclam bis-tetraazamacrocyclic antagonist. Journal of Nuclear Medicine 2020, 61 (1), 123-128.

5. Tarn, M.D., Kizilyer, N.Y., Esfahani, M.M.N., Joshi, P., Brown, N.J., Pamme, N., Jenkins, D.G., Archibald, S.J. Plastic Scintillator-Based Microfluidic Devices for Miniaturized Detection of Positron Emission Tomography Radiopharmaceuticals. Chemistry-a European Journal. 2018;24:13749-13753.

Research grants (total of £3.5 million to the University of Hull researchers since 2012)

1. Daisy Appeal Charity £580,000 (2012-2017) ‘Integrated microfluidic devices for per patient dose synthesis and validation.’

2. EU FP7 ‘iTERM: imaging for tissue engineering ITN’ total value €3,575,729 (6 universities and 4 companies, 2013-2017). Hull project Co-I (funding £253,085) and Lead site for PET imaging.

3. Cardiac Trust £278,000 (2018-2020) ‘Radiochemistry facilities for cardiac tracer production’

4. Medical Research Council £558,000 (2019-2022) ‘New technology to improve capability for clinical radiopharmaceutical production’

5. Engineering and Physical Sciences Healthcare Technologies £136,858 (2021-2024) ‘Development of novel acyclic chelators for gallium-68 and scandium-44 radiometals used in PET’ Linked project with King’s College London.

Patents (1-6 granted and 7 under examination)

1. RADIOACTIVITY DETECTION WO2017153722A1 14/09/2017

2. MONOLITHIC BODY WO2016063070A1 28/04/2016



5. RADIOISOTOPE RECOVERY EP3210211A1 30/08/2017

6. Compositions comprising macrocycle derivatives incorporating bridged macrocycles and methods of producing and using same US10927108B2 23/02/21

7. INERT NANOCAPSULES WO2020016561A1 patent application under examination