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First images from medical beamline at Canadian Light Source


Saskatoon, SK – A University of Saskatchewan (U of S)-led research team at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron received an end-of-year gift last week. After several years of research, construction and testing, the unique-in-North-America BioMedical Imaging and Therapy facility (BMIT) captured its first X-ray images.

To view the images, click http://www.lightsource.ca/media/BMIT_1stDEI.php.

“Our entire team was just thrilled with what we saw – the images we’re getting on BMIT are as good as any I’ve gotten at any other synchrotron. That’s quite an achievement given that we had our first X-rays down the beamline less than a month ago,” said Dean Chapman, U of S Canada research chair in X-ray imaging and BMIT team leader.

“The BMIT team is profoundly grateful to the staff of the CLS who have worked extremely hard over the past several years to bring this facility to fruition. In the coming months, we’ll be working closely with the CLS, the U of S and the Saskatoon Health Region to build the local, national and international research capacity of this world-class facility.”

The X-ray images of a mouse were taken with diffraction-enhanced imaging (DEI), a technology co-discovered by Dr Chapman, U of S professor and former CLS executive director William Thomlinson, and US researcher Zhong Zhong. The imaging team included Drs Chapman, Thomlinson, CLS staff scientist Tomasz Wysokinski, U of S researcher David Cooper, graduate students Brian Bewer and Ying Zhu, and Dr Sheldon Wiebe with the Saskatoon Health Region.

DEI uses the unique properties of synchrotron X-rays to produce images of soft tissues such as muscle, organs and tumours that do not readily absorb X-rays, making them cloudy or invisible to conventional X-ray radiographs and mammograms. For example, the mouse’s lungs are clearly visible in the DEI image, but only appear as a faint blur in the conventional absorption image.

DEI imaging is proving to be a valuable tool in visualizing cancer, imaging bone cartilage and understanding the structure and function of reproductive organs. Other techniques planned for development at BMIT include the delivery of precise beams of high energy X-rays for the treatment of cancer.

Under construction since fall 2005, BMIT is the only facility of its kind in North America and one of a handful in the world. The $17-million lab, consisting of two beamlines and support systems, will be complete in 2009. BMIT will be capable of imaging and therapy research involving plants and animals of all sizes – from hamsters to horses – and one day humans. The project is the result of an international collaboration of researchers from Canada, the US, Australia, France and Italy.