World’s First 3D Human Body Scanner
Scientists and developers at UC Davis are revolutionizing medical imaging practices with an invention that records images of the insides of the body in remarkable detail. For the last decade, Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi have been developing a full-body scanner, which combines the accuracy and definition of positron emission tomography (PET) and CT imaging. The resulting uEXPLORER, which was unveiled in November 2018, is the world's first full-body medical scanner. It produces images nearly 40 times faster than current PET scans, and it can capture a three-dimensional picture of the full scale of the human body in as few as 20-30 seconds.
The uEXPLORER is expected to have game-changing implications to the medical field (especially in clinical research, drug trials and patient care) because of its quick speed, high accuracy and lower radiation loads. This powerful imaging scanner will make it possible for doctors to evaluate the internal activities of organs and tissues all at once and practically in real-time. For example, it has the potential to measure how much blood is actively flowing or how the body channels, for example, glucose to other regions in the body. It even may be able to track tagged drugs as they travel through the circulatory and/or digestive system. Researchers plan to use the uEXPLORER to study cancer that has spread beyond a single tumor site, internal inflammation in organs and joints, the progress of an infection, as well as immunological and/or metabolic disorders and many other diseases.
After securing a kick-starter grant of 1.5 million (USD), Badawi and Cherry were able to get a 15.5 million (USD) grant from the National Institutes of Health, which opened the doors to build a commercial partnership with Shanghai-based United Imaging Healthcare (UIH). UIH plans to manufacture the uEXPLORER based on its latest hardware and software platform as well as making it larger, more robust and user-friendly. UIH is a known player in the field of imaging diagnostic equipment, high-end radiation therapy (RT) equipment, and medical information solutions.
Older generations of MRI scanners have already made it more comfortable for patients during the scan featuring soft lighting and calming images. The uEXPLORER will make full-body scanning easier on the patient because it will operate quicker and will simultaneously capture numerous images throughout the body at one time. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the uEXPLORER on humans as early as spring 2019. This “green light” will help researchers show the full usability of the scanner and contribute to the field’s general knowledge of the inner-workings of the human body whether it’s healthy or diseased.