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World’s First Total Body Scanner has the Potential to Revolutionize Medical Imaging

February, 2019

The world's first medical imaging scanner EXPLORER, that can capture a 3-D picture of the whole human body has produced its first scans few months back. Developed by UC Davis scientists Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi, EXPLORER is a combination PET and X-ray computed tomography scanner that can image the entire body. This machine captures radiation far more efficiently than other scanners and can produce an image in one second and, over time it can produce movies that can track specially tagged drugs as they move inside the entire body. This technology has many potential applications ranging from improving diagnostics to tracking disease progression to researching new drug therapies. The first images from scans of humans produce by the new device were displayed at the Radiological Society of North America meeting on November 24th, 2018 in Chicago.

The scanner has been developed in partnership with Shanghai-based United Imaging Healthcare (UIH) which is planning to manufacture the device for the broader healthcare market. Dr. Cherry, professor in the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering said that "While I had imagined what the images would look like for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible detail we could see on that first scan. He added that “While there is still a lot of careful analysis to do, I think we already know that EXPLORER is delivering roughly what we had promised”.

According to Badawi, chief of Nuclear Medicine at UC Davis Health and vice-chair for research in the Department of Radiology "The level of detail was astonishing, especially once we got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized. We could see features that you just don't see on regular PET scans. And the dynamic sequence showing the radiotracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time was, frankly, mind-blowing. There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel." The developers of EXPLORER expect that the new device will have a profound impact on clinical research and patient care because it has the capacity to produce higher-quality diagnostic PET scans than have ever been possible. The device can also scan up to 40 times faster than current PET scans available in the market and can produce a diagnostic scan of the whole body in less than 30 seconds.

– Arpitha Shetty,
Research Analyst,
Infoholic Research