World’s first total-body PET scanner

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have set out to help build the world’s first total-body positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, a medical imaging device that could change the way cancers and other diseases are diagnosed and treated.
The project is a consortium led by a UC Davis research team and includes scientists from Berkeley Lab and the University of Pennsylvania. It’s supported by a recently announced five-year, $15.5 million ( Euro 13 million) Transformative Research Award from the National Institutes of Health.
The consortium’s goal is to build a PET scanner that images the entire human body simultaneously, a big jump from today’s PET scanners that only scan 20-cm segments at a time. In addition to being able to diagnose and track the trajectory of a disease in a way not possible today, a total-body PET scanner would reduce a patient’s radiation dose by a factor of 40, or decrease scanning time from 20 minutes to just 30 seconds.
Berkeley Lab’s contribution, led by William Moses of the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, is to develop electronics that send data collected by the scanner’s detectors to a computer, which converts the data into a three-dimensional image of the patient. The new scanner will have half a million detectors, and the data from each detector must be electronically transmitted to a computer, so the task is incredibly complex.
‘We’re developing the electronic interface between the detectors and the computer algorithm-and the electronics for this scanner is an order of magnitude more complicated than what’s been done before,’ says Moses. ‘But Berkeley Lab has a long history developing instrumentation for nuclear medical imaging, including PET scanners, and this project is another milestone in our research.’
The total-body PET scanner is the latest project in Berkeley Lab’s PET-related research, coming at a time when technology has advanced to the point that it s possible to efficiently process the data generated from the scanner’s half a million detectors.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory