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Melbourne researchers now have access to one of world’s most advanced imaging PET/CT  scanners which will fast track treatments for brain disorders such as dementia, epilepsy, mental illness, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The new facility to be officially opened today at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Parkville, based at the University of Melbourne is the first in Australia dedicated to human research alone.

Professor Roger Ordidge, Chair of Imaging Science at the University of Melbourne said "This sophisticated technology will make a substantial impact on our ability to research and diagnose different brain disorders.”

“Research using this powerful new PET/CT scanner will detect diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease long before symptoms manifest themselves helping to identify areas in the brain to target for preventative drugs.”

The new state of the art imaging technology shows live chemistry of the brain as it happens and will give researchers high definition, 3D pictures of inside a patient's body.

Rob Williams, Research Technologist for the PET/CT at the Melbourne Brain Centre, Parkville said “Instead of researchers having to wait thirty years for results that impact their research, they will now wait less than a month.” 

The PET (positron emission tomography) scanner shows metabolism and the function of cells, while the CT (computed tomography) shows detailed anatomy.
 "The combination PET/CT gives us unparalleled views inside the human body, including any abnormalities of brain function," said Professor Ordidge.

“We not only have a very strong ability to identify the presence or extent of disease using PET, we have the CT to help pinpoint exactly where follow-up treatments should be administered, “ he said.

He said the technology also provided researchers with a valuable investigative method for the study of drug action and the development of new therapeutic approaches.

This scanner is devoted to research, so studies can be scheduled without the impact of hospital clinical studies blocking access to the machine. For trials to operate effectively, they need to have whole days or sessions devoted to studies, something that is almost impossible in a busy cancer environment where scanners are currently placed. The machine has an extended field of view, with a 128 slice CT which has superior performance to any clinical scanner in operation in Australia.

Established within the Melbourne Brain Centre, the new facility is a joint initiative of the University of Melbourne, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (formerly Florey Neuroscience Institutes, and the Mental Health Research Institute) Austin Health and Melbourne Health.

The scanner was installed as part of the Victorian Biomedical Imaging Capability (VBIC) project.
The purchase of the Siemens PET/CT scanner was part-funded by the Victorian Government through the Department of Business and Innovation as well as the University of Melbourne and the former Mental Health Research Institute.