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TRIMAGE aims to create a trimodal, cost-effective imaging tool consisting of PET/MR/EEG using cutting edge technology with performance beyond the state of the art. The tool is intended for broad distribution and will enable effective early diagnosis of schizophrenia and possibly other mental health disorders.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder, characterized by profound disruptions in thinking, affecting language, perception, and the sense of self. It often includes psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices or delusions. Schizophrenia disorders manifest themselves early in life during very active life periods of education and productive work and can impair functioning through the loss of an acquired capability to earn a livelihood, or the disruption of studies. This causes a high social and economic burden on European societies. In most of the cases, if correctly diagnosed, schizophrenia can be treated, and people who are affected can lead a productive life and be integrated in society. Schizophrenia is usually studied using a translational approach: psychological, social and biological parameters are acquired and analyzed together, but the early diagnosis still remains a critical challenge.
Currently, there is a strong need for an imaging tool that facilitates the diagnosis of schizophrenia early during development. It is important to stress that precise and early diagnosis cannot be achieved with a single measurement. Additionally, an off-line combination of data acquired separately is still insufficient, because several correlated patient-specific signals may vary over time. As a consequence, the full integration of different diagnostic modalities into a seamless clinical tool is mandatory for the application of multiparametric measurements on a routine basis in all schizophrenia patients. Such a tool is not available today.
The main objectives of this project are two-fold: (a) to build and optimise an integrated diagnostic solution including a molecular imaging tool based on simultaneous Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Magnetic Resonance (MR) and Electroencephalography (EEG), and (b) to validate the new tool with specific biomarkers for detecting characteristic patterns in asymptomatic and at-risk patients and monitoring medication during drug therapy. The project will be directed towards a new, cost-effective and integrated, “beyond the state of the art” instrument so as to provide a toolset for the diagnosis of patients in most clinical psychiatric centres. It is important to note that a classical “insert” solution was considered and discarded based on prior experience in this Consortium; PET inserts used in conjunction with a commercial MRI scanner immediately invalidate the CE certification of the medial device and as such they are a non-starter in a clinical environment.