Scientists use Cherenkov radiation to diagnose cancer

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York have shown that Cherenkov radiation is better at detecting the presence and location of tumors than a CT scan, but inferior to it in detail.

Cherenkov radiation is a bluish glow that occurs when particles pass through a transparent medium at a speed greater than the speed of light in that medium. It can be observed in astrophysical experiments or nuclear reactors.

During a clinical trial, a prototype imaging device using Cherenkov radiation successfully captured the presence and location of tumors in cancer patients.

Magdalena Skubal, a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said the Cherenkov glow images were compared with standard tumor scans. As a result, the images of the new device were classified as “acceptable” or better for 90 percent of patients.

Cherenkov radiation is generated by high-speed particles moving faster than light through materials like body tissues. In Cherenkov Luminescent Imaging, or CLI, radiotracers release particles that cause the target tissue to vibrate and relax in a specific way. As a result, the fabric emits light, which is then captured by the camera.

From May 2018 to March 2020, scientists conducted the largest clinical study of its kind to date. It involved 96 people who underwent both CLI and standard imaging such as positron emission tomography/computed tomography, or PET/CT.

Scientists use Cherenkov radiation to diagnose cancerThe CLI (left) of a patient with classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma shows a blue glow on the right side of the neck, indicating the focus of the disease. This is consistent with similar PET/CT imaging findings (right)

Participants with a variety of conditions, including lymphoma, thyroid cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer, received one in five radiotracers. After that, the prototype – a camera in a translucent case – created images of tumors.

Scubal and her colleagues found that the CLI detects all radio tracers. This suggests that the technology is more versatile than PET/CT, which only works with certain radiotracers.

CLI images are not as accurate as PET/CT. But the CLI can be used as an initial diagnostic test or to estimate the overall size of the tumor being treated, said study co-author Edwin Pratt, also of Memorial Sloan Kettering. “It’s a quick and easy way to see signs that something is wrong for further investigation,” Pratt said.

“These results confirm that this technology is a promising low-cost alternative that can expand access to nuclear imaging in hospitals,” summed up Antonello Spinelli, a preclinical imaging specialist at the Center for Experimental Imaging in Milan, Italy, as an expert not involved in the study. .

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