GE HealthCare debuts head-only MRI scanner dedicated to studying Alzheimer's, psychiatry and more

GE HealthCare aims to provide neuroscientists and researchers with a clearer view into the human mind by using a specialized, “premium” MRI machine to help explore the brain’s structure and function.

The company raised the curtain this week on its plans to offer a dedicated, head-only scanner, the Signa Magnus—which, according to GE HealthCare, will help overcome the limitations that come with employing full-body machines for neuroscience imaging, especially when it comes to studying degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease as well as brain cancers and psychiatric disorders.

The 3.0 T Signa Magnus system will help provide crucial details when it comes to the brain’s smallest structures, including its vasculature, with the ultimate goal of supporting the development of more accurate tests and potential treatments as well as making the case that MRI can serve as a much more capable diagnostic modality.

“With Signa Magnus, we are not just exploring the possibility of providing the tool; we are setting new benchmarks in medical research and future clinical patient care,” Kelly Londy, CEO of GE HealthCare’s MR business, said in the company’s announcement during the annual meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine taking place in Singapore.

“This innovation underscores our commitment to R&D and our collaborations with academia, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in MR imaging,” Londy added.

One of the first of the investigational systems was installed earlier this year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as the company pursues a 510(k) clearance at the FDA.

“With this system, we will be able to measure things that weren’t possible with conventional MRI,” said Carl-Fredrik Westin, Ph.D., founding director of the Laboratory of Mathematics in Imaging and director of the Neuroimaging Analysis Center in the hospital’s department of radiology. “We can ask questions we couldn’t ask before.”

At the same time, the company said many currently installed 3.0 T systems from GE HealthCare could potentially be upgraded to take advantage of Signa Magnus’ approaches.