The NICI project’s ambition is to lay the foundations of a new area of research: the study of human biology using non-invasive chemistry imaging. For this, NICI aims to unite two areas of research: metabolomics and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Metabolomics studies body functions through the measurement of metabolites; MRI, is able to provide 3D images of the body. By advancing MRI so that it can detect metabolic biomarkers and by discovering powerful new MRI-visible biomarkers, a non-invasive technology can be developed for dynamically mapping biochemical processes in the whole human body.
This new non-invasive technology for imaging biochemical processes in the human body will open a new and effective window for understanding human biology, diseases and their treatment. It will enable a paradigm shift from morphologic imaging to biochemical understanding.
The NICI project will develop a new methodology for the in vitro discovery of discriminant biomarkers using co-cultured 3D organoids as models for human organs. In addition, the project will develop a measurement platform, integrated with 7T MRI scanners and associated data acquisition approaches to adapt these MRI scanners into 3D biochemical imaging systems. NICI will validate the dynamic 3D chemical imaging approach and its predictive and prognostic value by researching a stratification strategy for patients with liver metastasis of gastrointestinal cancer (this is one out of many possible applications). Research within the NICI project is conducted within an international, interdisciplinary consortium and brings together physicists, biologists, chemists and clinicians.
NICI has received funding through Future Emerging Technologies (FET Open), which is part of Horizon2020 of the European Commission. It supports research on new future technologies combining high scientific ambition with technological implications. More information on FETopen can be found under fet-open