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Canterbury and New Zealand taking the lead

Canterbury and New Zealand taking the lead with 3D colour scanner to help reduce diseases

September 11, 2014

The University of Canterbury will build the world’s first human colour x-ray scanner, with the help of a six-year $12 million Government funding announcement made today.

The university’s Associate Professor Anthony Butler says it is important for New Zealand to have world-leading biomedical research tools so health researchers can understand and apply new information and technology.

``This is a revolution in medical imaging that enables medical researchers to measure the components of human tissues and some drugs to improve medical diagnosis and disease management.

``To date, New Zealand universities have worked with local industry to sell pre-clinical scanners to medical researchers around the world. This will provide health benefits, cutting-edge medical training and key international links.

``This will be the world’s first full spectral CT colour x-ray scanner designed for human clinical trials. Our MARS spectral scanners measure eight x-ray energies simultaneously to give compositional (molecular) information about tissues.

``We are focussing on heart disease and bone implants such hip replacements, but also looking at helping cancer researchers and drug developers.

``The scanner will be built by the University of Canterbury and when ready will be hosted by the Otago Medical School in Christchurch in the heart of the Christchurch health precinct. Lincoln University will provide large animals for testing.

``This will provide us with international links with dozens of international universities, many of whom now visit New Zealand to test their pharmaceuticals on our pre-clinical scanners. We will also forge business links with international companies including healthcare organisations and many local industries including high precision mechanical companies and electronic manufacturers. We will be training a high-tech workforce and we expect more than 30 PhD students to be involved during the programme.

``Five years ago there were only a small number of people in the world doing this research. There are now special editions of journals covering the topics and conferences. The human medical imaging market is currently worth $US27.4 billion and growing at 4.4 percent a year,’’ Associate Professor Butler says.

MARS-Bioimaging last year won the Canterbury Regional Deloitte Fast 50 Rising Star Award and was finalist in the two categories in the 2014 NZ High Tech Awards. The University of Canterbury has a share in the company.


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