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Gamma-ray astronomy techniques channelled to improve nuclear medicine

Published: 17 August 2020
Current nuclear medicine
Current nuclear medicine techniques rely on a lead collimator as the ‘lens’ in the imaging system

Researchers from the University of Southampton are adapting imaging techniques used to study stars and galaxies to create medical camera systems that use lower doses of radiation.

Physics and Astronomy's Professor Tony Bird is working with specialists at University Hospital Southampton and University spin-out company Symetrica to develop the gamma-ray imaging that will improve the effectiveness of nuclear medicine.

Nuclear medicine is a specialised area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials to examine organ function and structure using imagery from sensitive gamma-ray detectors.

Professor Bird, of the Southampton Astronomy Group, says: "The imaging systems we are using were developed for gamma-ray astronomy, where we try to study emissions from distant stars and galaxies. Because those emissions are so faint, our imaging systems (called 'coded masks') are designed to catch every gamma ray they can and are much more efficient than current collimators."

The collaboration is funded through the SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT).

The University has also developed new software that can deal with a moving camera or patient, based on astronomical imaging allowing a telescope to move across the sky while still collecting information.

Read the full story in the latest edition of Re:action, the University's research and enterprise magazine.



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