Scottish research centre looks inside the human body
A WORLD-leading research centre, based in Scotland, is using the latest scanning technology to help revolutionise the treatment of patients with serious diseases.
• An abdominal scan shows the incredible detail achieved Picture: University of Edinburgh
The 20 million facility in Edinburgh is looking at better ways of diagnosing and treating conditions including cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and mental health problems.
In what researchers believe is a world-first, patients across Scotland will benefit from faster diagnosis and treatment thanks to three of the most hi-tech scanners being available in the same centre.
The unit, based next to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, will today be officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh as researchers gear up to increasing access to the equipment for patients and other scientists.
The Clinical Research Imaging Centre has been created by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, with funding from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and other charities and private supporters.
Professor David Newby, head of research and development for NHS Lothian, said the centre was "unique" and would greatly improve the knowledge and treatment of serious diseases.
It is hoped that the scanners will mean that patients have to undergo less invasive procedures, such as biopsies and angiograms, where catheters are inserted to look for damage to organs and blood vessels.
Instead, experts will use the equipment to scan organs in less than a second, allowing them to see tiny details within.
• Scanning the brain can help in the treatment of depression
The scanners allow doctors to track the flow of blood through vessels, such as through the heart, to see how disease is spreading.
They can also help track how effective new drug treatments are.
The centre will shortly have the full use of a cyclotron - a machine which makes radioactive chemicals which are injected into the body and used to map what is happening inside cells.
Prof Newby said that, together, the equipment would allow them to closely examine what was happening inside cancerous tumours at a very detailed level.While this technique is quite well established, he said the cyclotron would allow them to develop new chemicals to try to answer more complicated questions about how the cancer is behaving, instead of just whether it has spread.
The chemicals could also be used in the brain to show how bad someone's depression is and which drugs would best target the areas to improve their symptoms.
Professor Edwin Van Beek, director of the centre, said: "There have been dramatic advances in imaging over the past decade, changing the way we look at disease and our understanding of the biological processes involved.
"As opposed to simply looking at the structures of the body, such as the heart and the brain, we can look at how organs are functioning in real time.
"This will not only help us better understand disease but it will help us improve both diagnosis and treatments."
The three scanners and how they work:
• THE magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner makes it possible to do whole-body 3D imaging in six minutes. It has noise reduction levels of up to 90 per cent less than convention MRI scanners and has more room inside, making it more comfortable and less claustrophobic for patients. The scanner comes from an award by funders led by the Wellcome Trust.
• THE CT scanner is the first of its kind in the UK. It has the ability to capture entire organs in a fraction of a second. Exposure to radiation is reduced by 80 per cent compared with conventional scanners. The 4m scanner was funded by RBS. Initially, it was agreed that RBS staff would take advantage of 25 per cent of the scanner's capacity. This was later dropped.
• THE other machine offers whole-body PET/CT scanning in five minutes. The scanner uses radioactive chemicals which are created by a machine called a cyclotron. They are then injected into the body, "lighting up" cells and tissues, which are subsequently scanned to indicate the spread of disease. Doctors say they can see what is happening in tissue and cells "in great detail".
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east