19th January 2024 – By Aaruthy Suthahar
TwinsUK and the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London welcomed the first pair of twins to undergo an MRI scan for our new study on ageing, at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital. This milestone event marks the start of an exploration into early markers of disease and ageing throughout the body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive scanning technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of the internal structures of the body. MRI allows us to safely see changes inside the body, often long before any clinical signs or symptoms are noticed.
The Twins MR Imaging Study, utilising the UK’s first MAGNETOM Free.Max, signifies a leap in the field of medical imaging. This state-of-the-art scanner, installed at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre, represents a collaborative effort to push the boundaries of accessibility and innovation in healthcare. 2,500 TwinsUK members will undergo comprehensive MRI scans of the brain, spine, heart, and other vital organs at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre.
Using the MRI data, the team will look at the size, structure, and function of organs like the heart, liver, blood vessels and brain, and body tissue composition such as muscles, fat and ligaments. The MRI data gathered will be connected with health record data and a wealth of new and historical data generously donated by TwinsUK members for up to 30 years. The outcome will be a comprehensive and powerful resource to explore and support research into health and ageing-related topics.
Study co-lead Professor Claire Steves, Head of Department at TwinsUK said:
“Twin studies provide an ideal way to explore how the body develops as it matures and how age-related diseases form. They help us unpick the effects of genetics and life experiences on how the body changes.”
Professor Sebastien Ourselin FReng FMedSci, Head of the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences explained:
The opportunity to bring more than 20 years of twins health data into collaboration with the advanced medical imaging facilities of our school will enable us to create one of the most complete research biobanks of the UK population. From this we can look to learn more about the effects of environment and lifestyle on health and how they impact on normal human aging. This is an exciting time for cross-disciplinary research, and I look forward to the outcomes of this new study.
TwinUK members Jean and Sharon said:
“While we engage in familiar tests when we come in for visits at TwinsUK, our experience has continually been enriched by technological upgrades and our involvement in cutting-edge research studies.
Our journey with TwinsUK has not only contributed to scientific advancements but has also remarkably enhanced our well-being. We’ve noticed a significant improvement in our health since becoming members. Sharing a day together when we come in also adds an extra layer of joy to the experience.
Joining this new MRI study is especially exciting for us, drawing from a past MRI that identified a back issue, leading to successful corrective surgery. This really shows how important and effective MRI scans are, and we’re super excited to be part of this new study.”
Eligible TwinsUK members will be invited to take part in the study over the next few years.