Real Time Minaturised in situ Blood Counting System for PET Preclinical Studies

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Physics


The concept of a more individualised medical diagnosis and treatment is gaining momentum in recent years. Such an approach can offer a more sensitive and affordable quantitative examination and a more targeted treatment depending, for example, on the individual's metabolism. Large scale multidisciplinary research is currently taking place to investigate and construct appropriate devices that will enable the widespread application of this concept. Of particular interest to this work is the Positron Emission Tomography method, which allows to monitor the function and metabolism of the internal organs, something that cannot be obtained with an X-ray based tomography method. In the PET method special radioactive nuclei are inserted in large numbers into the body and due to their compatible chemical structure they can follow the metabolism inside the tissues. The radioactive nuclei spontaneously decay emitting a characteristic radiation, which can be detected and used to monitor continiously the metabolism of the organs. To obtain a quantitative results from a PET scan it is crucial to monitor the amount of radioactive nuclei that flow following the blood in the arteries. In this project we propose the development of a dedicated detection device based on technology developed for experimental nuclear physics. The proposed device aims at monitoring the concentration of radioactive nuclei in the blood in a continuous and sensitive way without requiring the extraction of blood samples. This can greatly simplify the process of monitoring the concentration of radioactive nuclei during a PET examination and enable a more personalised and precise diagnosis from a PET examination.

Planned Impact

The proposed detector offers a simpler and more sensitive method to monitor the concentration of beta particle emitting radio isotopes in the blood. One of the main advantages is that it can be used without the need to extract the blood from the arteries, which is particularly important in preclinical studies with small animals. Given that the proposed detector development will be integrated in a lab-on-chip platform it is reasonable to claim that there would be a significant societal benefit as these platforms are aiming to revolutionise the way the diagnosis and treatment is performed through a more personalised approach. Due to the simplicity and low cost of the suggested detector device, it can become a very attractive solution to be further developed, adopted and used in collaboration with developing countries. In this way the proposed development has the potential to contribute to the UK efforts in performing research that benefits and strengthens collaboration with the developing economies around the world.


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Description - The most significant achievements from the award was the development of a sensitive microprobe small enough to be inserted in vein.
- The award objectives were met, the device is operational. We have not yet quantitatively compared the performance of this probe (sensitivity) against other devices.
Exploitation Route - The findings may be taken forward by collaborators at University of Hull for integration in lab-on-chip solutions.
-- Moreover, we are evaluating its performance in dosimetry applications.
Sectors Healthcare

Title Microprobe 
Description As the main development part of this project: a probe has been developed that can directly measure beta-particle emissions in tissue (artery) with high efficiency without the need for pumping the blood out of the body seems, which is currently the widespread practice. Note, however, that this microprobe has only been tested with a vessel yet not in small animals, as this was beyond the scope of this project. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The development of the microprobe facilitates quantitative PET in both the preclinical research setting in small animals as well as reduces radiation exposure for clinical staff. With this instrument the very limited amount of blood available in small animals does not need to be pumped out. 
Description Hull 
Organisation University of Hull
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our contribution to this collaboration is to offer expertise on ionising radiation detectors. In particular, we have developed bespoke devices for radioactivity monitoring of micro-fluidic substances.
Collaborator Contribution Firstly they have given us access to their radiochemistry laboratory (PET research centre) in multiple occasions. This has enabled us first to understand better their development needs. In a more practical way it offered us access to use radioactive substances that we cannot access at the University of York; these substances are short-lived positron-emiting isotopes that are used for PET imaging. The isotopes, were either produced using their in-house Cyclotron or in-house generators, facilities that we would otherwise not have access to. Also, the isotopes are in diluted in solutions where we inserted our probes. Open and liquid radioactive source are also not allowed/available in our Nuclear Technology laboratory at the University of York.
Impact No outputs yet. The collaboration is cross-disciplinary in the sense that we are Physicist and collaborators from University of Hull are Chemists. It is not yet multi-disciplinary although it is quite obvious that once we are ready we would involve collaborators from Medicine.
Start Year 2016