WELLINGTON, June 23 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand scientists have claimed a world first in developing a 3D scanner that could revolutionize treatment of diseases by showing a detailed view of the inside of the body.
The University of Canterbury's MARS-Bioimaging scanner was capable of examining molecular structures and tissues, as well as diagnosing common illnesses such as the build-up of plaque in heart disease, and cartilage and arthritis, said associate Professor Anthony Butler.
It also enabled drug delivery systems that allowed researchers to follow drugs in the body to help fight cancer and joint diseases.
"We have been the first in the world to explore the scanner and its applications. While others theorize about scanner uses we can actually test them," Butler said in a statement Monday.
Researchers expected to be safely scanning large animals such as sheep in about three years and to undertake human clinical trials in five years.
"We face a number of technical challenges such as the quality of sensor materials and coping with the high power of the x-ray tubes used for human scanning," said Butler.
"On the clinical side we know there is likely to be benefit for monitoring drug delivery agents and joint implant imaging. The purpose of a human scanner for clinical trials is to evaluate how this new information translates to improved human diagnosis and management."
The preclinical imaging market involving scanners used in medical research was worth about 200 million U.S. dollars a year and growing 16 percent annually, he said.