Unique high resolution scanner will boost childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment

(12-05-2017) Ghent University and VUB cooperate to complete a Total Body PET high resolution scanner by 2020 - the first of its kind in Europe.

The new molecular imaging technique of the Total Body PET or PET20.0 scanner will have a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and various neurological and cardiac disorders. Due to the very large field of view of 2 meters, the sensitivity to body imaging is increased by a factor of 20 compared to the currently used PET scanners.



Childhood Cancer Research

The first and most important target group of this new scanner are children. For the treatment of cancer and blood disorders, PET-CT scans are nowadays used on a regular basis (PET is the abbreviation of positron emission tomography, a technique of making 3D images after injection of a radioactive substance in a vein; CT is computer tomography, this is the 3D version of the 'Classic' x-rays). However, children have a large increase in sensitivity to radiation. The unique sensitivity increase (20x) of the new scanner can compensate for this problem as it allows to lower the dose by the same factor. Due to their smaller size, the 4 mm resolution in the current PET scanners is often inadequate for children.

In addition, PET20.0 also has unique possibilities for quickly determining the effect of various innovative therapies (immune therapy, chemotherapy, stem cells, molecular and conventional radiotherapy) and for the development of new detectives and research into new medication. Finally, the scanner will also be used for fundamental scientific research into the functioning of humans, animals and plants.


The new PET20.0 scanner is the first of its kind in Europe. The scanner will be built by the research group MEDISIP (faculty of Engineering and Architecture) and fully operational in the Nuclear Medicine in Ghent University Hospital by 2020. The construction and installation of the new PET20.0 scanner was announced at the bi-annual Belgian Nuclear Medicine (BELNUC) conference in Het Pand, which took place on May 6, 2017. The initiators are the UGent research groups MEDISIP and Nuclear Medicine and the spinoff company Molecubes. The project was launched in collaboration with the VUB. Various UGent faculties will collaborate with other partners in Europe to realize the scanner.