First Australian imaging technology to deliver research windfall

An exciting project between the University of Sydney and the Northern Sydney Local Health District will see a $15 million, revolutionary scanner installed at Royal North Shore Hospital, greatly improving patient care and research capabilities.

Australia’s first Total Body Positron Emission Tomography (TB-PET) scanner will produce faster and higher quality whole-body PET/CT scans, with less exposure to radiation than current scanners.

It will capture the whole body in a single scan, allowing doctors to diagnose, guide treatment and track patient’s progress more accurately.

In addition to the direct clinical benefits, there will be wide sweeping benefits for research.

Professor of Medical Imaging Physics Steve Meikle said the TB-PET will be able to capture dynamic, physiological information from all organs at the same time.

“This will be incredibly useful as researchers seek to understand how chemical signals within and between organs regulate their function, and how these processes go awry in chronic diseases,” he said.

“Crucially, it’ll allow researchers to evaluate the effects of new drugs on the whole body, including the targets they’re designed to interact with and non-target sites.”

The high-tech scanner could improve treatment for a wide range of chronic diseases, including cancer, neuromuscular conditions and infectious diseases.

“By identifying new disease targets and biomarkers, or evaluating new therapies, the scanner could greatly assist patients with an earlier diagnosis or access to more effective, personalised treatments.

“Importantly, researchers from across the country and international collaborators will have access to the facility. It will be the only one in Australia with a dedicated research capacity.”

The machine, which will be a flagship of the National Imaging Facility, is expected to be operational by 2022.