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PET Centre goes operational

22 September 2010

PET ScannerThe new PET scanner will open new dimensions in research and treatment

The University-led multi-million pound Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Centre has just gone operational.

The new facility is one of the most advanced in the UK, giving researchers and doctors the ability to detect malignant tissue and track the effects of drugs in incredible detail.

The Centre is operated by Cardiff University in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in specially-built premises at Cardiff’s Heath Park complex. The £16.5 million Centre was funded jointly by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Health and Economy and Transport Departments. The £1.8M state-of-the-art new PET scanner built by international technology company GE. The facility also includes a £1M highly advanced cyclotron which will also allow the development of new drugs and positron-emitting pharmaceuticals.

The Centre is now keen to work with researchers across the University on developing and testing new drugs and tracing agents. PET will allow scientists to track exactly how drugs work in the body and develop new scanning techniques. Research will concentrate on cancer, heart diseases and brain diseases such as dementia. For example, PET will be used to try and improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment planning as well as assist in the translation of new drugs into routine clinical use. As a result of these research projects, a number of companies are keen to work in partnership with the University.

PETIC Operations Director Dr Chris Marshall said: "We are keen to start building up research collaborations across the University. PET has the potential to detect any molecule in the body and this opens a world of new possibilities for study. We are looking to work with academics in the physical sciences on new tracer materials, and with colleagues in the life sciences on the better understanding of biological structures and functions, the development of new pharmaceuticals and ultimately, better diagnoses and treatments for patients."

The new all-Wales PET Centre will also improve the service for hundreds of patients across the nation every year. Previously, Welsh patients had to travel to Cheltenham, or further afield, for PET scans.

The scanner can detect tumours when they are just a few millimetres in size. In addition, it can also show how active the tumours are and allow doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment for patients. It will also allow doctors to track patients’ progress during therapy and has the ability to determine if patients are responding the therapy much earlier than existing techniques. This will allow the patient’s management to be changed to a different therapy at a much earlier stage if the treatment is not working.

CyclotronThe new cyclotron will enable the development of new drugs

Welsh Assembly Government Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "The new PET scanner will provide far more detail, helping health professionals to provide a more effective and quicker diagnosis, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes for patients.

"It will also be used to build on the research that is carried out in Wales so we can learn more about these diseases and further develop treatments."

Commenting on the research capability of the new PET centre Deputy Minister for Science, Skills & Innovation, Lesley Griffiths, said: "This demonstrates the commitment of the Welsh Assembly Government to investing in research and development as we recognise the potential that it will have both in terms of health and research. By working with multi-national companies we’re confident that the PET centre will raise the profile of Wales as a place to partner in research."

Professor Paul Morgan, Dean of Cardiff School of Medicine, said: "The PET scanner really does put Cardiff University in the international forefront of medical imaging technology. We already have world-class MRI and MEG imaging facilities at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre. The PET Imaging Centre increases our capacity for cutting-edge research with our partners at the Health Board and with other universities and businesses internationally. We expect PET to help transform our understanding of a large number of diseases and to play a part in the development of effective new treatments."

Kesh Baboolal, Director of Acute University Hospital Services, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: "Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, along with its partners at the Welsh Assembly Government and the University, is committed to providing the best possible facilities for patients. The new PET scanner will mean they will have access to cutting edge technology right here on their doorstep.

"The PET scanner will make a huge difference to how we diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. It will help us to identify and track what is wrong with a patient much more accurately and tailor treatments specifically to their needs making them much more efficient. This investment in patient care will be a potent weapon for the health board and help us fight and defeat disease and hopefully save many, many lives."

For more information see the PETIC website at