A study looking at different ways of doing MRI scans (HeVoMRI)

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This study is looking at 3 new ways to do an MRI scan. 

It is open to people who:

  • don’t have cancer or other medical conditions (healthy volunteers) or 
  • who have an inherited Open a glossary item risk of developing cancer

Please note, you can’t volunteer to join if you have an inherited risk of cancer. The study team will invite you to take part. 

The study is being done at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

More about this trial

MRI scans help to find and diagnose cancer and other conditions. They are also used to monitor cancer to see how well treatment is working. And to check if a cancer is developing if you have a risk of this happening. You might have a contrast medium Open a glossary item to enhance the picture. 

Researchers are looking to see if they can improve the amount of information they can get from the pictures on the MRI. In this study they are looking at 3 different ways of doing this. These involve:

  • checking how your body processes lactate that is produced during the breakdown of sugar for energy. This is a carbon MRI scan.
  • checking how your body processes sugar (glucose). This is a Deuterium Metabolic Imaging (DMI) scan.
  • checking the distribution of naturally occurring salt in body tissue. This is a sodium MRI scan.

The researchers think that these methods might give more information about tissues in the body. But they aren’t sure so want to find out more. 

The main aims of the study are to find out:

  • if these scans improve the amount of information we can get from the MRI scan
  • how these methods work in people who don’t have cancer. This is to see how normal tissues in the body look.

The researchers hope this will help to work out how best to use MRI scans to diagnose cancer and other diseases. 

Who can enter

The following bullet points are a summary of the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the study team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you. 

Who can take part

You may be able to join this study if all of the following apply. You:

  • are willing to go to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge for a scan 
  • are willing to use reliable contraception during the study and for a period after if there is any chance you or your partner could become pregnant
  • are at least 18 years old 

For people who have an increased risk of developing cancer
As well as all of the above, the following must also apply. You:

Who can’t take part

You cannot join this study if any of these apply. You:

  • aren’t able to have an MRI scan for any reason. For example you have metal implants such as a pacemaker, surgical clips, pins or plates or cochlear implants (for deafness), you have a fear of being in closed spaces (claustrophobia) or you have small pieces of metal in your eyes. If you are a woman using a copper coated coil (IUD) for contraception the team will confirm if it’s ok to have the MRI scan.
  • have significant heart problems Open a glossary item, lung problems Open a glossary item or problems with your brain or spinal cord
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • have any other medical condition or mental health problem that could affect you taking part 

Trial design

The team need about 90 people in total to take part. 

The inherited risk of cancer group
To begin with your healthcare team check if they think you might be suitable to take part in this study. They then tell you about it and give you an information sheet to read. You can only take part in this group if you are invited to do so. 
Healthy volunteer group
There will be posters about the study in Addenbrooke’s Hospital and around Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The contact details of the study team are on the posters. There will also be details of the study in hospital newsletters and daily bulletins. You can contact the team if you are interested in taking part.

The team will tell you about the study and ask you a few questions to find out if you are suitable to join. 

Having an MRI scan – both groups 
If you agree to take part, you have at least one of the following MRI scans:

  • a carbon MRI scan
  • a deuterium metabolic imaging (DMI) scan
  • a sodium MRI scan

You can have just one scan or you can volunteer to have two or all three of them. If you have all 3 scans you might not be able to have them done on the same day. The study team will talk to you about whether to do them together or separately. This depends on your time and availability. Each scan takes about an hour. 

For the carbon MRI, you have an injection of pyruvate before the scan. Pyruvate is a sugar like substance that is found naturally in the body. You have this through a small plastic tube (cannula) into a vein in your arm. 

For the DMI scan you drink a small sugar (glucose) drink before the scan.

For the sodium MRI, there is no preparation. You only have the scan.

The team might ask you to have 1 or 2 more MRI scans within 3 months of the first one. This helps them to get more information about the scans. You can say no to this. It won’t affect you taking part in the rest of the study. 

Blood and urine samples
The team ask to take a blood sample and collect a urine sample. This is done just before and after the MRI scan. They plan to use the samples to look at how pyruvate and glucose work in the body. You can say no to having these samples taken. It won’t affect you taking part in the rest of the study. 

Hospital visits

You have at least 1 hospital visit if you join this study. You may have one or 2 more visits if you agree to have further scans. 

You have the scans at the Department of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRIS Unit) or the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC) in
Addenbrooke’s hospital. 

Side effects

The radiographer Open a glossary item will monitor you during the scans. You have a ‘squeeze ball’ alarm during the scan so you can alert them if you feel any discomfort. They can stop the scan at any time. 

An MRI scan is very safe and doesn’t use radiation. Possible risks include:

  • a small bruise where they put the drip in if you have this
  • an allergic reaction to the contrast medium Open a glossary item but this is rare. Symptoms include flushing, feeling hot, a metallic taste in the mouth or dizziness.



Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Ferdia Gallagher

Supported by

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cancer Research UK
University of Cambridge

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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