Breast-specific gamma imaging

A team at the Thomas Jefferson National Ac-celerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) successfully developed and transferred a lifesaving med-ical imaging technology—compact gamma cameras for the improved detection of breast cancer. The gamma imaging technology was licensed to a high-tech startup company, Dilon Technologies, Inc., in Newport News, Virginia, and is commercially known as the Dilon 6800 Gamma Camera. The Jefferson Lab Radiation Detector and Medical Imag-ing Group, in addition to its principal role of researching detector solutions and tech-nologies for experimental nuclear physics research, is developing application-specif-ic gamma ray imaging detectors for breast cancer diagnostics and molecular biology medical-oriented research. This device is a direct spinoff of technology used in the nu-clear physics mission of the Lab.Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI) is a molecular imaging technique that has prov-en to be an effective tool differentiating be-tween malignant and benign tumors. Better than its predecessor, scintimammography, BSGI relies on the advanced imaging tech-nology of anatomic-specific detectors to detect early-stage cancers. Prior to devel-opment of this specialized camera, the size and performance of large general purpose gamma cameras used to perform scinti-mammography and other general nuclear medicine applications was not well-suited to imaging the breast. Collaboration between Jefferson Lab, clini-cal sites, universities and Dilon helped move this concept from the lab to patients in need. Breast centers and hospitals across the country—and many international sites—are delivering advanced patient care because of the lab’s work. The new BSGI camera based on Jefferson Lab’s detector technology is particularly useful in patients with dense or fibrocystic breast tissue, and it has identified malignancies that were missed by conven-tional mammograms, resulting in improved treatment planning and outcomes.Many technology transfer mechanisms such as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), patents and licenses were utilized to develop this camera from an idea in a lab to an internationally recognized lifesaving medical device. The technology transfer efforts in developing the breast-spe-cific gamma imager epitomize the way that basic research-driven technologies can find application and be developed and commer-cialized to make a significant difference in our daily lives.
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