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New PET CT Research Imaging Centre will improve patient treatment and advance research in major diseases

7th June 2019

Faster scans, lower radiation doses, better images:

New PET CT Research Imaging Centre will improve patient treatment and advance research in major diseases

St. Vincent’s University Hospital and University College Dublin have opened a new PET CT Research Imaging Centre using state of the art technology to improve patient treatment and advance research in major diseases.

This latest technology offers considerable patient benefits in terms of much higher image quality, markedly shortened scan time and significant reduction in radiation dose compared with other conventional PET CT scanners.

The new scanner will be used primarily for patients with cancer, dementia and cardiac disease.  Because of the high sensitivity and resolution of the scanner, radiologists can now access higher quality images as part of their diagnostic investigations. This means earlier detection and more accurate diagnosis of diseases.  Patients also receive a lower dose of radiation and the time they spend on the scanner can be cut in half.

The PET CT Research Imaging Centre – which was funded by the HEA under PRTLI 5 (Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions) and HSE- will also be used by UCD and St. Vincent’s University Hospital clinical researchers to advance medical scientific understanding of a number of diseases and determine better patient treatments.

James Menton, Chairman of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group said:  “Our new Centre marks an important step forward in the detection and treatment of major diseases. Our patients can directly benefit  from this highly advanced technology which will not only lead to earlier diagnosis, treatment and improved health outcomes but will also offer the patient greater piece of the mind much earlier in their treatment journey.

“An important feature of this new Centre is our partnership with UCD and the ability to use the scanner for on-going research, education and clinical trials. As an academic, research-intensive teaching hospital, this collaboration will mean that we are able to diagnose and treat patients today with the most advanced equipment in the country which is also allowing us to test, investigate and pioneer new treatments for the future.”

Professor Andrew Deeks, President of University College Dublin said: “UCD and St Vincent’s have a long history of partnership.  Generations of medical students have moved between Elm Park and Belfield. The opening of this PET CT Research Imaging Centre in the St Vincent’s University Hospital setting is most welcome and is an endorsement of the strong reputation in clinical research UCD has built up through the Ireland East Hospital Group.   We believe that this combination of patient therapy and clinical research leads to better outcomes for patients and improved impact in terms of contribution to global research.

“The availability of this advanced technology opens further interdisciplinary research involving medical scientists, physicists and nano-scientists, molecular biologists and chemists, and biomedical engineers.   And the development of this centre provides our investigators with a vital new tool in our efforts to understand health and disease as we together seek new ways to improve outcomes for patients.

Three clinical research studies have already been approved:

  • Professor Paddy Mallon, Consultant in Infectious Diseases, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is to conduct a study using PET CT to investigate the impact of long-term medication for conditions such as HIV on the heart.   As new antiretroviral medicines for HIV have emerged, patients are living longer with the condition but these drugs can cause cardiovascular side -affects.  Prof Mallon will use the scanner to identify early changes in inflammation in the major blood vessels, which may be a predictor of heart disease/damage.
  • Professor Jonathan Dodd, Consultant Radiologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is undertaking a study to help identify psoriatic arthritis earlier so that its progression can be slowed down or prevented.  He will use the PET CT to detect vascular inflammation and joint inflammation in patients with psoriatic disease who are asymptomatic or have no signs of arthritis on clinical examination.  Using this approach, patients with subclinical psoriatic arthritis will be identified earlier and their treatment can be initiated to improve their overall health outcomes.
  • Professor Doug Veale, Consultant Rheumatologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is investigating the effectiveness of biologic treatment for patients with Achilles Tendon enthesitis (inflammation of the bone where ligaments/tendons attach). Biologic treatment uses genetically engineered proteins made from human genes that zero in on specific targets that control the inflammation process.  Benefitting from the better imaging of tissue and bone provided by the new scanner, Prof Veale will assess the overall disease activity, patient function and quality of life over a four-month period to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.

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