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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

First full body imaging now available to Aussie patients and researchers

Health Industry Hub | December 13, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Healthcare and academic stakeholders celebrates the inauguration of the Australian National Total Body PET Facility, marking a historic moment as it introduces the first-ever Total Body Positron Emission Tomography (TB-PET) scanner available for nationwide open access research and clinical applications.

A collaborative initiative between the University of Sydney, National Imaging Facility (NIF), and Northern Sydney Local Health District, this $15 million state-of-the-art facility signifies a significant leap forward in medical imaging technology. Located at Royal North Shore Hospital, the Siemens Biograph Vision Quadra, an innovative TB-PET scanner, is set to enhance nuclear medical imaging.

The Siemens Biograph Vision Quadra represents a quantum leap in medical imaging technology. Its capability to conduct comprehensive whole-body imaging within a single scan not only minimises radiation exposure but also drastically reduces scanning time – from 20 minutes to as little as 3 minutes – and produces higher-quality images.

Professor Mark Scott, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Sydney, expressed enthusiasm about the collaborative effort, stating, “This facility shows what can be achieved when leading institutions join forces to advance healthcare and research capabilities. We are not only improving the health of patients today, but also utilising this technology to fast-track new discoveries for the future.”

The unique ability to simultaneously scan all tissues and organs provides unprecedented insights into whole-body physiology and intricate organ interactions, offering a new dimension to medical research across diverse areas including oncology, neuroscience, cardiology, infectious diseases, and drug discovery.

Reduced radiation and scanning times expand PET imaging options for vulnerable groups such as children in impactful research and clinical studies. It also encourages the participation of healthy individuals in clinical trials and enables repeated scanning of patients to better understand disease progression and treatment effects, broadening medical research insights.

One of the studies underway at the facility involves the examination of oxytocin’s impact on the brain and body. Professor Adam Guastella from the University of Sydney heads this research, aiming to understand the pathways and effects of oxytocin delivery intranasally or through intravenous injection, potentially improving therapies for conditions like schizophrenia and autism.

Professor Margaret Harding, Governing Board Chair of the National Imaging Facility (NIF)*, emphasised the national significance of this investment.

“The facility is a unique national asset which will revolutionise Australia’s capacity to attract and support research and industry undertaking clinical trials for the development of new pharmaceuticals and medical products to improve health outcomes for Australia,” Professor Harding stated.

In addition to its research contributions, the facility’s operational model prioritises patient care, as noted by Adjunct Professor Anthony Schembri, Chief Executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District.

“We are extremely honoured to be hosting this Australian-first where patients can receive world class care, and researchers can use the scanner for clinical research which may translate into improving patient care in the future,” he remarked.

The University of Sydney’s commitment to this facility is further underscored by a generous bequest from William Chapman, dedicated to advancing cancer research. Professor Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sydney, highlighted the collaborative nature of this enterprise, stating, “The combined clinical and research arrangements for this amazing medical imaging technology and its location in a bustling hub of activity at Royal North Shore Hospital will foster collaboration among researchers, healthcare providers, policymakers, and industry leaders to fast-track innovation in research translation.”

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*NIF is a $300m portfolio of imaging capabilities which have received investment from the Australian government, under the state governments, and its network of 13 university, medical research institute and government science agency partners. NIF is administered by The University of Queensland and is independently governed.


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