Scientists at the Laboratory for Dynamic Imaging at Monash University in Australia have developed 4D lung scanning technology that has the potential to improve the diagnosis, management and treatment of lung disease.

The platform, referred to as the 4Dx pre-clinical scanner, was developed by a team led by Professor Andreas Fouras and has been commercialised by his medical technology company 4Dx.

The 4Dx technology generates high-resolution images of lung-tissue motion and airflow throughout the lungs, which allows investigators to view and measure abnormal function in specific areas of the lung, before a disease progresses and spreads.

This is accomplished by the 4Dx image analysis technology receiving X-ray images acquired from X-ray imaging equipment, which is then converted into 4D lung function data.

“With this technology, not only will clinicians have a clearer image of what is happening in the patient’s lungs, but it is our aim to detect changes in lung function much earlier than in the past, which will allow clinicians to quantify the effects of treatment by simply comparing measurements from one scan to the next,” said Research Lead at 4Dx, Rajeev Samarage.

The technology has 10 years of studies and trials behind it, and the 4Dx team raised millions of dollars in research funding from agencies such as Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council and the American Asthma Foundation.

According to Prof Fouras, what makes their 4Dx pre-clinical scanner revolutionary is that it can replace current tools which require two or three pieces of diagnostic information to piece together what is happening in someone’s lungs.

“Our game-changing diagnostic tool offers images of the breathing lungs, making it possible to see what is really important – not what they look like – but how they work,” said Prof Fouras.

The initial roll-out of the 4Dx pre-clinical scanner is intended to be in radiotherapy targeting cancer. However, according to 4Dx, “its far-reaching potential provides unprecedented levels of detail for the diagnosis and monitoring of debilitating respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and asthma.”

The first in-human study for 4Dx commenced in 2015 to definitively demonstrate the value of this technology in the radiotherapy setting and represents a significant step towards regulatory approval.

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