U.K. researchers seek to design high-sensitivity SPECT camera

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Project ProSPECTus is attempting to develop a new technology for next-generation SPECT imaging which will shorten imaging time, lower radiation doses, improve future diagnosis of cancer and the probability of successful cancer therapy while enabling a higher throughput of patients in hospitals.

The ongoing project is led by the University of Liverpool, England, with the nuclear physics research group at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, England.

ProSPECTus' technology based on the Compton camera principle is 100 times more sensitive than existing clinical SPECT systems and offers two benefits--either the dose of radiation administered to the patient could be reduced or alternatively more patients could be scanned by one machine in a day if the current dose is used, according to STFC.

Andrew Boston, PhD, the project spokesperson at the University of Liverpool, said it will be possible to operate ProSPECTus' technology "simultaneously with MRI, which has never been an option due to the MRI's strong magnetic field. In fact, it will be possible to fit this SPECT system retrospectively to the 350 or so existing MRI scanners across the U.K.”

For patients, this could mean shorter imaging time, lower doses of radiation, fewer appointments, earlier and more effective diagnosis of tumors and higher probability of effective treatment, according to Boston, who added that clinicians might be able to see more patients in a day.