A dedicated non-human primate centre for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been opened by Maccine, a preclinical contract research organisation (CRO) based in Singapore.

The centre will draw on advanced imaging modalities such as PET (positron emission tomography), 64-slice CT (computed tomography) and DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry), placing Maccine “at the global forefront of commercial preclinical imaging”, the CRO said.

According to Dr John Beaver, the new head of the imaging team at Maccine, the centre constitutes “a state-of-the-art clinical MR platform which will allow us to conduct detailed, non-invasive longitudinal research on the many disease models we offer here”.

An added advantage, Beaver noted, is that the Siemens 3T TIM Trio instrument installed at the centre is widely used both in clinical research and in secondary care, providing “a unique opportunity to conduct real translational research”.

While the main use for the MRI facilities will be in Maccine’s discovery services, there is also “growing recognition within the industry of the usefulness of the application of imaging technology to toxicological investigation”, driven largely by the US Food and Drug Administration’s Critical Path Initiative to streamline drug development procedures, pointed out Leigh Berryman, the CRO’s chief executive officer.

With Maccine’s Good Laboratory Practice-standard safety assessment capability, “we are well positioned to provide a cutting edge service”, Berryman commented.

The imaging team will also benefit from the formation of a functional MRI cynomolgus macaque colony, which has been established with the support of the Maccine neurobehavioural unit and an industry partner, the company said.

“This will allow research programmes on monkeys that are complementary to human neural haemodynamic response work, one of the fastest growing areas in behavioural neuroscience today,” it explained.