EXPLORER, the world’s first medical imaging scanner that can capture a 3-D picture of the whole human body at once, has produced its first scans.

The brainchild of UC Davis scientists Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi, EXPLORER is a combined (PET) and X-ray computed tomography (CT) that can image the entire body at the same time. Because the machine captures radiation far more efficiently than other scanners, EXPLORER can produce an image in as little as one second and, over time, produce movies that can track specially tagged drugs as they move around the entire body.

The developers expect the technology will have countless applications, from improving diagnostics to tracking disease progression to researching new drug therapies.

The first images from scans of humans using the new device will be shown at the upcoming Radiological Society of North America meeting, which starts on Nov. 24th in Chicago. The scanner has been developed in partnership with Shanghai-based United Imaging Healthcare (UIH), which built the system based on its latest technology platform and will eventually manufacture the devices for the broader healthcare market.

“While I had imagined what the images would look like for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible detail we could see on that first scan,” said Cherry, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. “While there is still a lot of careful analysis to do, I think we already know that EXPLORER is delivering roughly what we had promised.

EXPLORER image showing glucose metabolism throughout the entire human body. This is the first time a medical imaging scanner has been able to capture a 3D image of the entire human body simultaneously. Credit: UC Davis and Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai

Badawi, chief of Nuclear Medicine at UC Davis Health and vice-chair for research in the Department of Radiology, said he was dumbfounded when he saw the first images, which were acquired in collaboration with UIH and the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai.

“The level of detail was astonishing, especially once we got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized,” he said. “We could see features that you just don’t see on regular PET scans. And the dynamic sequence showing the radiotracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time was, frankly, mind-blowing. There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel.”

Source: Human images from world’s first total-body scanner unveiled