Molecular imaging sniffs out malfunctioning organs
MADRID, Spain – Using a biomedical scanner that resolves
cellular processes at the molecular level, scientists can now detect a malfunctioning
organ before it produces any anatomical changes. Spurring the device’s development
is the need to study human diseases in animals that are hundreds of times smaller
The prototype of the technology, which is in the patent process,
was validated by studies done at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital by a group
of researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). The device is based
on single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), one of the most widespread
molecular imaging techniques in clinical practice. Some aspects of the technology
already play a role in nuclear medicine imaging and MRI.
The researchers’ studies have ranged from the initial design
of an electronic architecture for gamma ray detectors to industry transfer of a
complete scanner. Their articles were published in IEEE Transactions on Nuclear
Science (two articles) and Physics in Medicine and Biology (one article).
In addition to making an earlier diagnosis possible, the scanner
can facilitate biomedical and pharmaceutical research, speeding the development
of new medicines, for example, according to the UC3M researchers.
The SPECT system has been completed for laboratory animals, and
commercialization is in the works. Sedecal, a Spanish manufacturer, is producing
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