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SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS of the 50th AAPM Meeting in Houston, July 27 to July 31

6. TUNING X RAYS FOR THERAPY AND IMAGING

Currently, the X rays used for diagnostic tests and cancer radiotherapy are composed of what is known as broadband radiation, consisting of a wide range of energies. A more efficient technique using lower doses of narrow-band radiation that can be specifically focused on cancerous tissue has been developed by a team of researchers from Harvard University, Ohio State University, and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

The researchers use an instrument known as an electron beam ion trap (EBIT) to generate special X rays that can be tuned to a particular energy band so that they react in resonance with certain nanoparticles or contrast agents (for example, the contrasts used for diagnostic imaging) embedded into tumors. When the nanoparticles are struck by those resonant X rays, the particles absorb energy efficiently, then radiate this energy nearby, and thus achieve direct tumor cell damage. Some of the particles will fluoresce. These signature emissions "can be detected and differentiated almost like scanning for your favorite radio stations," says study head Yan Yu (yan.yu@jefferson.edu), Professor and Director of Medical Physics at Thomas Jefferson University, allowing very high-resolution imaging of the tumor, but with very low doses of radiation elsewhere. Although the technique has not yet been used on patients, "it will eventually allow us to use x-rays in a pristine, smart way," says Yu.

Talk (TU-D-352-8), "Innovative Instrumentation for Resonant Cancer Theranostics" will be at 2:54 p.m. on Tuesday July 29, 2008 in Room 352. Abstract: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/35-9159-65642-404.pdf.

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HOW TO COVER THE MEETING

Reporters who would like to attend the meeting in person should fill out the press registration form on the AAPM Virtual Press Room. See: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/08AM/VirtualPressRoom/documents/pressregform.pdf.

Reporters who would like to cover the conference remotely will find releases and articles on the Virtual Press Room highlighting many of the interesting and important talks presented at the meeting. Even if you can't make it to Houston, the Virtual Press Room will make it possible to write stories about the meeting from your desk.

ABOUT AAPM

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) is a scientific, educational, and professional nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the application of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. The association encourages innovative research and development, helps disseminate scientific and technical information, fosters the education and professional development of medical physicists, and promotes the highest quality medical services for patients. In 2008, AAPM will celebrate its 50th year of serving patients, physicians, and physicists. Please visit the association's Web site at http://www.aapm.org/.

ABOUT AIP

Headquartered in College Park, MD., the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.

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Media contacts:

Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics,
301-209-3091 (office) 858-775-4080 (cell)
jbardi@aip.org

Jeff Limmer, AAPM Media Relations Subcommittee Chair
jeffl@aspirus.org