UNC grants license to start-up medical imaging company

Thursday, December 18, 2008 — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has granted NextRay Inc. an exclusive license to develop and commercialize defraction enhanced imaging (DEI) technology, which creates X-ray images through the defraction instead of the absorption of X-ray beams.

The technology allows images to be made using fewer X-rays, exposing patients to a much lower dose of radiation. Researchers say this could be especially important to patients who are more sensitive to the effects of radiation (babies, children, pregnant women and younger adults) and those who are X-rayed frequently, such as in screening or monitoring the effects of therapy.

In conventional medical X-ray images, the various shades of gray are produced because different tissues absorb different amounts of X-ray energy. In defraction enhanced imaging, scientists look at how beams pass through the tissue and how they bend and scatter. Because these properties vary more subtly between different types of tissue, the resulting images are clearer and more detailed than conventional X-rays.

“DEI technology could possibly enhance all types of X-ray imaging, including that used for the visualization of soft tissue pathology such as osteoarthritis bone and tendon injury and soft tissue tumors, such as breast cancer,” said Dr. Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs in the UNC School of Medicine, Kenan Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering and director of the Biomedical Research Imaging Center. She is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

NextRay is a start-up company co-founded by Pisano, Dr. Christopher Parham, a former graduate and medical student at UNC, Drs. Zhong Zhong and Dean Connor at Brookhaven National Laboratories, and Dr. Dean Chapman at the University of Saskatchewan.

School of Medicine contact: Les Lang, (919) 966-9366, llang@med.unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu