Dec 20, 2011
SPECT offers big benefits for imaging small animals
Small-animal imaging is an invaluable tool for development of new therapeutic strategies for human medicine, offering, for example, a means to track the response of pharmaceuticals in animal models of cancer, diabetes and other diseases. But imaging tiny animals such as mice necessitates extremely high-resolution, artefact free imaging modalities.
In this exclusive video interview, Freek Beekman, head of radiation, detection and medical imaging at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, discusses the use of SPECT for small-animal imaging. He also details recent achievements in improving SPECT resolution from the typical clinical value of 1 cm, to 0.35 mm in a living mouse.
Beekman also discusses the work of MILabs, a company that he founded to commercialize pre-clinical molecular imaging. MILabs offers a range of SPECT systems, including the recently announced VECTor that can perform simultaneous SPECT and PET studies. This combined PET/SPECT device exploits clustered multi-pinhole collimator technology to deliver sub-millimetre resolution.
Looking to the future, Beekman says that it should be possible to translate the SPECT technology from the pre-clinical arena into human imaging. He predicts that such a system could, for example, perform cardiac imaging with two to three times higher resolution than currently possible, with equivalent scanning time and dose. Alternatively, it should be possible to achieve high image quality using far less radioactive material.
• This is the third in our series of video reports, produced in association with physicsworld.com. If you haven't seen the other two reports, check out The low down on molecular imaging and Image guidance: the way forward for radiotherapy.