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Breast Cancer Treatment And Bomb Detection Can Now Be Done Using X-Rays

First Posted: Dec 14, 2016 02:56 AM EST
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An international collaborative research study on X-rays, led by the University College London (UCL), has resulted in the development of an innovative Phase-Contrast X-Ray Imaging Technique. This technique can be used in the detection of solid tumors, small cracks and defects in physical substances, and which is why it can be used both in healthcare and security industry.

The five-year project funded by the renowned Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) involved extremely complicated study and analysis and upgrade of the conventional X-Ray Imaging Technology in to the Phase-Contrast X-Ray Imaging. The later relies on the measurement of the physical effects on the speed of the X-rays due to passing through different types of tissues and materials. As a result, it can detect variations in shapes and nature of matter. To achieve this level, the conventional X-rays need to be applied in extremely high doses that is prohibited, reported Phys.org.

Lead scientist of the project Prof Alessandro Olivo, Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, UCL, said that, "The technique has been around for decades but it's been limited to large-scale synchrotron facilities such as Oxfordshire's Diamond Light Source. We've now advanced this embryonic technology to make it viable for day-to-day use in medicine, security applications, industrial production lines, materials science, non-destructive testing, the archaeology and heritage sector, and a whole range of other fields."

The commercial application of this innovative technique in the fields of biomedical sciences and security is already underway, reported Health Canal. The Nikon technology developed a prototype scanner based on this technique, which can be used in security check points for fast and effective threat detection. The prototype is currently being tested and going through license approval procedure.

In a joint venture of the Nikon technology/UCL and Barts Health and Queen Mary University of London, a prototype scanner for the detection of breast cancer is under development. Prof. Olivo believes that the real potential of the technique will be gradually tapped in the future. He said that, "This has the potential to be incredibly versatile, game-changing technology. We're currently negotiating with a number of companies to explore how it could be put to practical use. There's really no limit to the benefits this technique could deliver."

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