BHF awards funding to develop software for new imaging technique

Dr Jennifer Keegan, principal physicist at the Trust and adjunct reader at Imperial College London, and her research team are the recipients of a Translational Award from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which will be used to develop software to help speed up how a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique is used in clinics. Translational awards aim to bridge the gap between promising innovations and the clinic with the aim of accelerating advances for patient benefit.  

MRI is a technique which produces images of the heart and in recent years Dr Keegan’s team has been instrumental in developing a new, faster MRI ‘tissue phase mapping’ (TPM) technique. This technique, developed with previous funding from BHF, can be used to produce detailed images that show how the muscle of the heart deforms as it beats. This information on deformation or strain has been shown to be very useful for early detection of heart disease and for guiding treatment. 

However, despite the new technique being able to collect images of the heart very quickly, it currently takes a long time to analyse the images and extract the information, which means the technique is not yet used in busy clinical practice. 

This new funding will allow Dr Keegan and her team to develop a fast and easy-to-use computer program to analyse the data from TPM so that it can be used to quickly produce reliable and useful information for clinical use.

Dr Keegan is grateful for the BHF’s support and said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant which will enable the translation of a novel MRI technique for regional strain analysis into clinical practice.” 

As part of this grant, Dr Keegan’s team aim to compare the TPM technique with Speckle Tracking Echocardiography (STE) which is the technique that is currently the most used clinically for assessing strain in the heart.

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