The scanner has been developed as part of a project that involved four years of research subsidized with zl.8.7 million from funds available under the European Union’s Innovative Economy Program. The innovative scanner is currently at the prototype stage.
“What is innovative about our invention is the technique, which makes it possible to obtain images of oxygen concentration in the patient’s blood in 3D in a simple way, within a few seconds, and thus obtain images of areas in the body affected by cancer,” says Prof. Jan Jurga, coordinator of the project and head of the team of inventors from the EPRI Laboratory of the Institute of Materials Technology in Poznań.”
Oxygen concentration is a significant parameter, not only in detecting cancer, but also in planning and applying appropriate treatment. The possibility of imaging oxygen concentration is a major step forward in comparison with other diagnostic techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT).
The strong points of EPRI include its high sensitivity to changes in oxygen concentration and much lower costs of medical examination due to the fact that the device works atlow-frequency magnetic fields and uses radio-wave frequencies. Thus the patient can be examined many times with this scanner. The technique is safe for the patient as well as the environment, and its operating costs are low. Alongside Jurga, a number of other researchers are taking part in the project. Among them are Prof. Eugeniusz Szcześniak and Tomasz Czechowski, the originator and designer of the main frame of the scanner.
The research team also includes Wiesław Prukała, Mikołaj Baranowski, Wojciech Chlewicki, Piotr Kędzia Marek Szostak, Stanisław Wosiński (pictured above), Piotr Szczepanik, Piotr Szulc, and Paweł Malinowski. The team is made up of specialists in various fields of science and technology—physics, mathematics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and computer science.
“As soon as a tumor is detected, the patient needs to undergo an appropriate therapy,” says Czechowski. Using any kind of treatment requires the doctor to know specific values of oxygen concentration around the tumor. If the concentration is below a certain level, healthy cells are destroyed instead of the tumor, which then become less responsive to treatment. But if oxygen concentration is above a specific level, the treatment will be much more effective. This indicator helps doctors plan a course of treatment in an optimal way with less of a burden on the patient. According to Jurga, the essence of this method is that it identifies free radicals—mostly oxygen free radicals—scattered around the human body and with a lifetime much shorter than a millionth of a second. To catch these radicals, it is necessary to introduce another radical, a so-called marker, into the body in a liquid form and highly sensitive to oxygen ions—thanks to which it can be immediately registered, in both the bloodstream and the cells.
In areas affected by cancer, the oxygen concentration is lower, as the tumor feeds on the oxygen in order to be able to grow. In this way, it is possible to observe the trouble spots and see how big they are. The method developed by the Polish scientists makes it possible to precisely determine the concentration of oxygen ions in a non-invasive way. The EPRI method can be used in both early cancer detection and for evaluating the effectiveness of treatment.
For more reading on cancer research go to this link: The magnet system for RS EPRI and spectroscopy (1) (http://emfadr.com/