Universities obtain DoD grant for 3D molecular imaging technology

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Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Delaware in Newark have received a grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a 3D patient imaging system that will allow surgeons to view and touch selected organs and tissues prior to surgery.

The investigators will seek to develop novel radiopharmaticals to scan for gene activity of pancreatic disease and present the results in a realistic hologram-like display that can be touched and probed like genuine organs.

The two-year project is focused on the pancreas and pancreatic tumors, and has two aims:
1.) Molecular design of a single new imaging ligand for epidermal growth factor receptors, and
2.) Surgical simulation of human pancreatic cancer reconstructed from patient CT and PET scans.

Currently, the elements of surgery must be imagined by the surgeon from 2D diagnostic images before an operation, according to Eric Wickstrom, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The researchers said that 3D holographic images will allow surgeons to see the lesion to be removed in the patient’s own anatomical environment and permit a ‘touch-and-feel’ surgical strategy.