UK Biobank has now launched the second phase of its imaging study.
In a £43m project, 100.000 of the 500.000 previous participants will be contacted again and asked to undergo a set of scans of their internal organs. The UK Biobank imaging facilities consists of a DEXA (Dual Echo Ray Absorptiometry)scan, ultrasound and two MRI cameras, or 3 and 1.5 Tesla, respectively. Conventional X-Ray and CT scans are not taken, to avoid exposing healthy people to unnecessary radiation.
The pre-study for the imaging project (already the largest imaging study in the world) took part in the imaging facilities in the main headquarter in Stockport, but for the large study, two more imaging facilities will be used.
The study is planned to take at least six years to complete. The largest expected benefit is the possibility to combine information from the imaging scans with data previously taken; blood, urine and saliva, and with patient records for the years to come. Having scans available from before a person caught on a decease is a rare opportunity when it comes to analyzing causes and risk factors.
What if a yearly scanning procedure would be available from your GP as a part of a standard health check-up – perhaps in combination with a one-off genetic screening?
What if it would be possible to use the results of such a scan, in combination with conventional medical tests to predict the risk of coronary heart decease or stroke with some certainty?
The future seem not far beyond the horizon.