Synchronotron X-Ray System Images Airway Surface Liquid

Researchers at Australia’s Monash University have developed an X-ray imaging system that enables them to see ‘live’ how effective treatments are for cystic fibrosis, according to correspondence published in the August 15 edition of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Kaye Morgan, PhD, a research fellow at Monash University and lead researcher on the paper, said the new X-ray imaging method allows researchers to look at soft tissue structures, for example the brain, airways and lungs, which are effectively invisible in conventional X-ray images. The synchronotron X-ray source used in the new system allows better imaging of the patients airway surface liquid (ASL). Cystic fibrosis patients have decreased hydration of the insides of these airways, which compromises the body’s defense mechanisms to and increases the risk of infection. The ability to image ASL could help physicians assess Medications designed to increase ASL.

“At the moment we typically need to wait for a cystic fibrosis treatment to have an effect on lung health, measured by either a lung CT scan or breath measurement, to see how effective that treatment is,” Morgan said. “However the new imaging method allows us for the first time to non-invasively see how the treatment is working ‘live’ on the airway surface.”

Morgan said this new imaging would enable doctors and researchers to measure how effective treatments are, and progress new treatments to the clinic at a much quicker rate, a key goal of coauthors Martin Donnelley, PhD and David Parsons, MSc, PhD, of the CF Gene Therapy group at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute.    

Morgan said the new method may also open up possibilities in assessing how effective treatments were for other lung, heart and brain diseases. 

Source: Monash University