Scannexus is a unique, integrated centre of excellence in ultra-high-field human MRI, housing three scanners of 9.4, 7, and 3 Tesla which are intertwined.
Scannexus is partner of the Brightlands e-Infrastructure for NeuroHEalth (BReIN). BReIN has set out to create an initial pilot project on applying big data approaches within health care, in particular by combining imaging and genomics data from Alzheimer (AD) patients, thus generating a multi-scaled model for the AD brain. This enables the development of innovative diagnostics and a deeper understanding of AD mechanisms for finding novel leads for anti-AD drug development.
Under the umbrella of Brains Unlimited, Scannexus provides a unique, integrated platform that combines state-of-the art technology with know-how (and access to patients), applying internationally renowned expertise in post-acquisition processing of data in relation to ultra-high-field MRI. The facility houses a worldwide unique combination of a 3T scanner with two ultra high field scanners of 7T and 9.4T. Scannexus provides all the services related to a MRI project, such as project setup, support and data analyses.
The Province of Limburg and Maastricht University are both shareholders in the Scannexus operator. Maastricht University Hospital became a shareholder of Scannexus in 2016.
Investments first came from company grants and loans. Apart from company grants and loans, the Maastricht University, the Province of Limburg and the ERDF South Netherlands funding program contributed to Scannexus. The MRI facility was funded by the latter EU funding scheme with amounts to M € 4.
Evidence of success
Based on effects on the development of the region and the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus (BMHC), the return is more than sufficient. Scannexus has put the region on the map and has in fact been the start for the Brightlands development. This not only made BMHC visibly become a campus, but Scannexus has also proved to be the flywheel for substantive collaboration between parties on campus. The effects on the regional economy are directly expressed in new jobs and added value activities.
Potential for learning or transfer
Scannexus is a good practice particularly useful for regions with the financial equipment or financial collaboration opportunity to make a highly risky and cost-intensive investment and a focus on research associated with state-of-the art technology for the purpose of facilitating a total service.
For the purpose of validating the novel AD diagnostics as developed by BReIN, in a multi-center trial, other regions may be interested in jointly creating Alzheimer Disease patients cohorts of sufficient critical mass including patients at multiple disease stages. Regions may want to generate imaging data, clinical data and further meta data, and perform genomic analyses of collected blood samples. Data may be transferred to the BReIN central data infrastructure for adequate storage, harmonization, and artificial intelligence-/deep learning- based analysis, or kept while allowing decentralized data analysis
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