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New PET CT Research Imaging Centre will improve patient treatment and advance research in major diseases

Posted 7th June, 2019
James Menton, Chair of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group with Professor Andrew Deeks, UCD President UCD, with the new PET CT Scanner 
St Vincent’s University Hospital and  University College Dublin have opened a new PET CT Research Imaging Centre where the latest technology will be applied to patient treatment and advanced research in major diseases, primarily cancer, dementia and cardiac disease.
With the high sensitivity and resolution of the scanner, radiologists will now access higher quality images as part of their diagnostic investigations. This means earlier detection and more accurate diagnosis of diseases.
It also means that patients will receive a lower dose of radiation as compared to conventional PET CT scanners.
The PET CT Research Imaging Centre is funded by the Higher Education Authority under PRTLI 5 (Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions) and the Health Services Executive.
The new technology will also be used by clinical researchers at UCD and St Vincent’s University to advance the medical scientific understanding of a number of diseases and to help determine better patient treatments.
“Our new Centre marks an important step forward in the detection and treatment of major diseases,” said James Menton, Chairman of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group.
“Our patients can directly benefit from this highly advanced technology which will not only lead to earlier diagnosis, treatment and improved health outcomes but will also offer the patient greater piece of the mind much earlier in their treatment journey.”
“An important feature of this new Centre is our partnership with UCD and the ability to use the scanner for on-going research, education and clinical trials,” he continued.
“As an academic, research-intensive teaching hospital, this collaboration will mean that we are able to diagnose and treat patients today with the most advanced equipment in the country which is also allowing us to test, investigate and pioneer new treatments for the future,” he added.
Speaking at the opening of the new PET CT Research Imaging Centre, Professor Andrew Deeks, President of University College Dublin highlighted the long history of partnership between UCD and St Vincent’s University Hospital.
He also reflected on the generations of students that have moved between Elm Park and Belfield. “The opening of this PET CT Research Imaging Centre in the St Vincent’s University Hospital setting is an endorsement of the strong reputation in clinical research UCD has built up through the Ireland East Hospital Group,” said Professor Deeks.
“We believe that this combination of patient therapy and clinical research leads to better outcomes for patients and improved impact in terms of contribution to global research,” he added.
“The availability of this advanced technology opens further interdisciplinary research involving medical scientists, physicists and nano-scientists, molecular biologists and chemists, and biomedical engineers. And the development of this centre provides our investigators with a vital new tool in our efforts to understand health and disease as we together seek new ways to improve outcomes for patients.”
Approval has been given for the following three clinical research studies at the new PET CT Research Imaging Centre:
(opens in a new window)Professor Paddy Mallon, Full Professor Of Microbial Diseases/Consultant Microbiologist/Infectious Diseases at the  UCD School of Medicine and Consultant in Infectious Diseases, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is to conduct a study using PET CT to investigate the impact of long-term medication for conditions such as HIV on the heart.

As new antiretroviral medicines for HIV have emerged, patients are living longer with the condition, but these drugs can cause cardiovascular side -affects.

Prof Mallon will use the scanner to identify early changes in inflammation in the major blood vessels, which may be a predictor of heart disease/damage.

(opens in a new window)Professor Jonathan Dodd, Clinical Full Professor at the UCD School of Medicine and Consultant Radiologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is undertaking a study to help identify psoriatic arthritis earlier so that its progression can be slowed down or prevented.

He will use the PET CT to detect vascular inflammation and joint inflammation in patients with psoriatic disease who are asymptomatic or have no signs of arthritis on clinical examination.

Using this approach, patients with subclinical psoriatic arthritis will be identified earlier and their treatment can be initiated to improve their overall health outcomes.

(opens in a new window)Professor Douglas Veale, Adjunct Full Professor at the UCD School of Medicine and Consultant Rheumatologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital is investigating the effectiveness of biologic treatment for patients with Achilles Tendon enthesitis (inflammation of the bone where ligaments/tendons attach).

Biologic treatment uses genetically engineered proteins made from human genes that zero in on specific targets that control the inflammation process.

Benefitting from the better imaging of tissue and bone provided by the new scanner, Prof Veale will assess the overall disease activity, patient function and quality of life over a four-month period to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.

By: Staff Writers, UCD University Relations