Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New approach allows closer look at smoker lungs

01.06.2006


Aided by a powerful imaging technique, scientists have discovered they can detect smoking-related lung damage in healthy smokers who otherwise display none of the telltale signs of tobacco use.



Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to probe deeper into smokers’ lungs by tracking the movement in the respiratory organs of a harmless gas known as helium. Helium can be inhaled and visually detected via the widely used diagnostic technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces high-contrast images of the body’s soft tissues. The use of helium is a departure from traditional MRI, which typically distinguishes body tissues from one another by tracking differences in water content.

Writing in the journal Radiology, the UW-Madison scientists suggest that in comparison to existing imaging methods, the helium-based approach could enable doctors to assess lung health more accurately, as well as spot smoking-associated diseases much sooner.


"It’s one thing to see a [lung] disease that was already diagnosed, but another to see changes that no one predicted were there," says lead author Sean Fain, a UW-Madison assistant professor of medical physics. "This approach allows us to look at lung micro-structures that are on the scale of less than a millimeter."

Cigarettes can contribute to the onset of respiratory conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. In emphysema in particular, the alveoli - tiny sacs in the lungs that transfer oxygen to blood - gradually break down. Fain and his team therefore reasoned that helium gas molecules are likely to have more space to move around in lungs with fewer functioning alveoli.

Testing that theory among eight non-smokers and 11 healthy smokers with no obvious lung damage, Fain found that the movement or "diffusion coefficient" of helium gas molecules did indeed correlate with how much a person smokes, with greater movement indicating a higher level of lung damage. But a more commonly used imaging technique, known as computed tomography, failed to register a similar correlation.

"Our technique is potentially more sensitive than established [imaging] techniques," says Fain. "This is the first time structural changes have been shown in the lungs of asymptomatic smokers."

Fain says helium-based MRI scans could one day help to gauge the efficacy of experimental drug therapies aiming to reduce smoking-related lung damage. The approach may also help to screen for people who might be genetically predisposed to conditions such as emphysema. In future work, Fain plans to dig deeper, to understand the underlying factors that lead to micro-structural breakdown in lungs.

Other co-authors of the study were Michael Evans, an assistant researcher in the department of biostatistics and medical informatics; Thomas Grist and Frank Korosec, both UW-Madison professors of radiology; and Shilpa Panth, a biomedical engineering researcher.

Sean Fain | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>