Acquire high quality patient images in less time and with simpler tools, thus improving cancer prevention. This will be possible thanks to the new scintillator material made by Bicocca researchers, illustrated in the ‘Composite fast scintillators based on high-Z fluorescent metal – organic framework nanocrystals’ study just published in Nature Photonics. The material was created by a group of researchers from the Department of Materials Science led by professors Angelo Monguzzi, Anna Vedda and Angiolina Comotti, in collaboration with Luca Gironi, researcher at the Department of Physics.
Technology Time-of-Flight Positron Emission Tomography (Tof-Pet) allows to reconstruct the image of a tissue marked with a radiopharmaceutical, exploiting the interaction of the radiation emitted with a scintillator material, that is, capable of emitting a pulse of light following this interaction. Tof-Pet detectors are used today in hospitals as the diagnostic method of choice based on reliable images for cancer diseases. Currently, they allow to accurately identify diseased tissues that are several centimeters in size. For this reason, their use as a means for the prevention investigation, that is able to identify the onset of tumor masses at the embryonic stage of the size of a few millimeters, is for now impossible.
In order to use diagnostic technology for this purpose, it is necessary to improve the time response of these instruments, determined by the properties of the scintillator materials used as detectors. “The new material developed – explains Angiolina Comotti – is a composite material consisting of a workable polymeric matrix that incorporates metal-organic frameworks hybrid sparkling nanocrystals”.
“The particular structure and composition of these hybrid crystals – continues Anna Vedda – is capable improve the effectiveness of the scintillation process in the material thus allowing to realize more sensitive radiation detectors and with a better time response than the state of the art “.
“The result obtained – concludes Angelo Monguzzi – is a first important step for the construction of new scintillator devices that can be used in Tof-Pet scanners commonly used in the hospital. Thanks to the improved performance, the consequent reduction in the dose of radiopharmaceutical required and the simplification of the instrumentation required to process the patient’s images, it will be possible to spread the use of this technique more widely “.
The impact of this new technology is potentially enormous given that it would make it possible to intervene effectively in a preventive manner against many oncological pathologies and, in the most optimistic case, to follow the evolution of diseased tissues in real time with absolute control, making possible a personalized and optimized development of therapies.