A project driven by Sydney should provide unique imaging capability to Australia while revolutionising patient care, through a joint venture with Northern Sydney Local Health District to procure a total body PET/CT scanner.
The ability to image all the tissues and organs of the human body in a quick, single scan, is one step closer in Australia with its first Total Body Positron Emission Tomography (TB-PET) scanner to be established as a joint venture between the University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) at the Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH).
Positron emission tomography-computed tomography, better known as PET-CT or PET/CT, scans for injected radioactive substances to measure changes in metabolic and other physiological processes. PET scans provide insights by visualising how therapeutics – as well as tissues and organs – are working throughout the body and aiding diagnosis of a range of diseases, including cancers and heart disease.
The $15 million TB-PET scanner project will revolutionise Australia’s biomedical imaging capabilities, deliver improved patient outcomes and boost medical and health science research programs. Expected to be operational by early 2022, the TB-PET will be for both patient care and research.
Associate Professor Paul Roach said Royal North Shore Hospital has a proud history of delivering world-class imaging to improve patient outcomes.
“The TB-PET scanner will revolutionise patient care by producing faster and higher quality clinical whole-body PET/CT scans compared with currently available scanners,” said Associate Professor Roach, Clinical Director of Nuclear Medicine at NSLHD and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.
“Patients will undergo their cancer scans in about a quarter of the time they take currently, with some scans taking only a couple of minutes. There is also the benefit of lower radiation doses, which is a great outcome for all patients, especially children.
“To have a facility in Australia where we can perform our clinical scans faster, produce superior quality images with less exposure to radiation than currently in addition to having a dedicated research capability for researchers throughout Australia, will be a first.
Professor Fernando Calamante, director of Sydney Imaging and the University-ANSTO joint NIF node, spoke of the TB-PET scanner’s importance as a new national research facility.
“The TB-PET will greatly enhance research capabilities by capturing radiopharmaceutical dynamics from all organs simultaneously — enabling the investigation of novel disease targets and mechanisms, novel biomarkers, and experimental therapies for systemic diseases.
“The scanner will also facilitate obtaining high-value digital data to open new frontiers in health care analytics.”
“This new generation in total body imaging technology will play an important role in better understanding systemic diseases such as cancer, infectious diseases, other chronic diseases such as diabetes and dementia, as well as better assessing treatment response from various drug therapies.”
The procurement of the TB-PET scanner, led by the University in collaboration with NSLHD, is underway, with only a handful of these new scanners currently available globally. The TB-PET project is established under an equal time-share arrangement for use in the clinic and national research.
The technology will form part of the University of Sydney’s Core Research Facility – Sydney Imaging – and will be a flagship of the National Imaging Facility (NIF), a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) capability of the federal government. The NIF is contributing up to $7.5m towards the TB-PET infrastructure, identified through the 2016 Research Infrastructure Roadmap as a nationally significant capability.
The collaboration between NSLHD and the University will build on the existing strong partnership in embedding a culture of research, education and innovation excellence to benefit patients both across the local health district and nationally.
NIF’s CEO, Professor Graham Galloway, congratulates the University of Sydney and the NSLHD for this bold investment in an iconic capability: “It will enable researchers across Australia to be amongst the world’s leaders in molecular imaging and ensure Australian patients are receiving world-class management of their conditions.”