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Technologies for healthcare
X-ray imaging produces images of tissue with good resolution. However, the technique only provides information about tissue density, not type. This is because X-ray imaging measures the attenuation of the X-rays transmitted; it does not take into account diffused X-rays, which can provide very specific information about tissue structure.
Researchers at Leti decided to try to take advantage of the diffused X-rays, especially at small angles, to distinguish tumors from healthy tissue, thereby improving diagnostics for pathologies like breast cancer. To do so, the researchers needed detectors capable of picking up the spectral signature of X-rays diffused in tumor tissue in a clinical setting. They developed CdZnTe detectors that effectively measure the energy emitted by the photons received. In addition, the sensors do not require cooling. They were combined with conventional polychromatic X-ray tubes and tested on mammary glands in mice.
The initial experiments completed revealed that it is possible to clearly distinguish cancerous tissue from healthy tissue at ambient temperature. The next step will be to complete tests on more complicated samples (different tumors, different stages of maturity) and on human tissue.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.