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New X-Ray Imaging Method for Cystic Fibrosis

Synchrotron x-ray source allows ‘live’ visualization of treatment effects

Scientists at Monash University in Australia have developed an x-ray imaging system that enables researchers to see “live” how effective treatments are for cystic fibrosis (CF).

Published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the imaging method allows researchers to monitor the effectiveness of a treatment for the life-threatening genetic disorder.

CF affects many of the body’s systems, but most severely the lungs, and it can take several months to measure the effectiveness of treatment for this early-fatal lung disease.

Lead author Dr. Kaye Morgan said the new x-ray imaging method, which was developed using a synchrotron x-ray source, allows researchers to look at soft-tissue structures — for example, the brain, airways, and lungs — that are effectively invisible in conventional x-ray images.

“At the moment we typically need to wait for a cystic fibrosis treatment to have an effect on lung health, measured by either a lung CT scan or breath measurement, to see how effective that treatment is,” Morgan said. “However, the new imaging method allows us for the first time to non-invasively see how the treatment is working ‘live’ on the airway surface.”

Morgan said the new imaging method would enable doctors and researchers to measure how effective treatments are, and would move new treatments to the clinic at a much faster rate.

She added that the new method may also open up possibilities in assessing how effective treatments are for other lung, heart, and brain diseases.

Source: Monash University; August 16, 2014.

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