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 On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

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: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>