Developing the MRI of the future on the Bordeaux campus

In mid-September, the partners of PrimoGaia, a European project led by the Center for Magnetic Resonance of Biological Systems (Centre de résonance magnétique des systèmes biologiques – CRMSB), met for the first Science Days in Bordeaux.

  • 05/10/2021

Imagerie par résonance magnétique © Gautier Dufau - université de Bordeaux Imagerie par résonance magnétique © Gautier Dufau - université de Bordeaux

The European PrimoGaia project aims to develop the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology of tomorrow. Led by the Center for Magnetic Resonance of Biological Systems (CRMSB – CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) and the University of Bordeaux), this project brings together an interdisciplinary consortium of seven academic and industrial partners* which met at the Scientific Days (Journées Scientifiques) held in Bordeaux on September 13 and 14.

PrimoGaia – Primo for prepolarized molecular imaging and Gaia with reference to the Earth's magnetic field – received €3.38 M of funding under the European Commission's Horizon 2020FET-Open (Future and Emerging Technologies) call for projects. This call aims to support research projects based on a radically different scientific perspective, promising technological breakthroughs and capable of structuring high-level multidisciplinary research.

The partners in the PrimoGaia project have set out to develop a new MRI method for mapping enzyme activity in biological tissues. Enzymes play key roles in cellular metabolism and are monitored as valuable biomarkers of pathologies in blood tests. Their high-resolution spatial location tracking in tissues will greatly improve disease detection and monitoring.

The scientists also aim to establish the technological foundations for a new type of MRI device that operates using very weak magnetic fields and may eventually be used for human imaging.Lighter and much less expensive than current clinical scanners, these devices could be used in environments that currently lack access to MRI (e.g. humanitarian medicine). Unlike conventional MRI, this technology does not require helium and can therefore form part of a sustainable approach.

Blazing a new trail in magnetic resonance imaging

“This highly competitive collaborative research project satisfies very ambitious criteria in terms of innovation,” proclaimed Philippe Moretto, Vice-President for Research at the University of Bordeaux in his introduction to the day's events, which were attended by Sylvain Miraux, Director of the CRMSB, Florence Noble, Deputy Scientific Director of the CNRS Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB), and Younis Hermès, Regional Delegate of the CNRS in Aquitaine.

“This is a world-leading consortium, and the only partnership working on this topic in France,” declared the Vice President for Research. Moreover, in the last two years, only three other projects involving the university, in association with its main partner the CNRS, have been awarded FET-type funding: FVLLMONTI, HERMES and Radiospin. Primogaia shares these same high-level ambitions based on very close collaboration between the different partners. The project also contributes fully to the development of theResponsible Research & Innovation (RRI) approach – an important factor at a time when universities and research organizations are striving to develop such procedures.

Ambitious projects on the Bordeaux campus

After a remarkable crop of projects initiated by Bordeaux laboratories engaged in the Horizon 2020 program, notably last year, it is now time to embrace Horizon Europe, the new European research and innovation framework program for the 2021-2027 period. With its budget of €95.5 billion, this program offers numerous funding opportunities for the university's faculty and researchers to carry out their ambitious projects by following in the footsteps of PrimoGaia, FVLLMONTI, HERMES and RadioSpin.

*Led by the CRMSB and coordinated in Bordeaux by the CNRS, PrimoGaia has mobilized an interdisciplinary consortium of seven partners, including four academic institutions: Fraunhofer Würzburg (Germany), University of Mons (Belgium), University of Turin (Italy) and Aix-Marseille University (France), and two manufacturers: Stelar (Mede, Italy) and Pure-Devices (Würzburg, Germany) bringing together the best European specialists in low-field MRI and contrast agent development.

Developing your European project with personalized support

In order to encourage its faculty and researchers and help them develop such an approach, the University of Bordeaux provides support though its Europe team in the Project Development and Monitoring Department (SMSP). This support varies according to the project developer’s needs, from the identification of funding opportunities to advice and support for the writing of non-scientific texts, budgetary and administrative coordination of the file, etc.

By contacting the SMSP-Europe team right from the start, research communities will have every chance of seeing their projects come to fruition.

Scientific contact

Sylvain Miraux
Director of the CRMSB