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SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS of the 50th AAPM Meeting in Houston, July 27 to July 31
Nano-gold, Stem Cells, Cancer Therapies, Preventing Medical Errors, and More

July 29, 2008 -- Whether X-rays for CT scans, sound waves for ultrasound, magnetic fields for MRI, or antimatter for PET scans, the "stuff" of physics has revolutionized the practice of medicine. In the last half century, the field of medical physics has emerged thanks to the efforts of scientists who develop these technologies and bring them to the clinic.

Almost all the hospitals in the United States today benefit from the work of medical physicists. They help diagnose illness by designing and implementing new and better ways of imaging the human body. They create treatment strategies for fighting cancer and other diseases. They take measures to ensure the safety of millions of people in the United States each year who undergoing these treatments.

This week, thousands of medical physicists will meet at the 50th meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) in Houston, Texas. AAPM is the largest association of medical physicists in the world.

"Traditionally our annual meeting is where scientists and clinicians working on the cutting edge of medical imaging and cancer therapy come to sharpen their knives, says AAPM President Gerald A. White, M.S., FAAPM, FACR. "This year's meeting in Houston is on track to be the largest and most important in the history of the AAPM. The organization was founded in the dawn of the atomic age, and each year our members build on that heritage to investigate and implement scientific and technological innovations that give definition to the medical care of the future."

Journalists are invited to cover the AAPM meeting in person or remotely. In the coming days, additional news releases will detail additional meeting highlights. All news releases will be hosted on the AAPM website (see link below).

  1. GOLD NANOSHELLS HELP VISIBLY HEAT AND DESTROY CANCER

    "...The use of magnetic resonance temperature imaging and gold nanoshells hold the very real possibility of meeting the long-sought goal of improving the precision of thermal ablation [a lethal dose of laser-generated heat to tumors], while sparing healthy tissue..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  2. TRACKING STEM CELLS TO THE HEART

    "...For the first time, researchers have tracked [certain] stem cells in mice using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from their bone marrow origin to the injured site. This opens up the possibility of finding some therapeutic treatment to direct these cells after a heart attack..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  3. NEW IRRADIATION METHOD HOLDS POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVING BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT PRECONDITIONING STEP

    "...People facing bone marrow transplants have a series of challenges to surmount. One of the first is the total destruction by radiation of their bone marrow in a process called total body irradiation..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  4. ATTACKING TUMORS BIT BY BIT

    "...Not all parts of a tumor respond to radiation therapy in the same way. Treatments in the future may target the most resistant tumor regions, but measuring this resistance is far from straightforward, a new analysis shows..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  5. NEW RADIATION THERAPY METHOD OFFERS SHORTER TREATMENT TIME

    "...Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a method of depositing radiation with varying intensities to different parts of cancerous tumors, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue from excessive exposure. A new variant of IMRT, called volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), promises further benefit to patients by offering the same treatment in half the time..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  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..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  7. COMPUTER-AIDED ORGAN IDENTIFICATION

    "...Physicians and medical physicists often spend hours drawing lines around tumors and organs in CT images, causing a major bottleneck in cancer treatment. A new semi-automatic user-interface could reduce the time and fatigue associated with this meticulous task..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  8. NEW TECHNIQUE TO ESTIMATE LUNG TUMOR CHANGES

    "...Lung cancer presents a special challenge to clinicians attempting to evaluate the effectiveness of radiation treatment and determine the total dose of radiation received by the tumor and surrounding tissues. The reason is simple: lung tumors change position as an individual breathes during medical scans..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  9. HOSPITAL COMPILES EXPERIENCE WITH LATEST IMAGE-GUIDED RADIATION THERAPY

    "...One of the pioneering machines in image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) has begun to mature, with over 1,000 treatments at one Oklahoma hospital alone. The hospital's staff has generated best-fit parameters from this voluminous data set..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  10. CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF WOMEN IN MEDICAL PHYSICS

    "...As part of the celebration of its 50th annual meeting, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine will honor contributions of distinguished women scientists in its membership..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.

  11. PREVENTING MEDICAL ERRORS IN RADIATION THERAPY

    "...One of the worst possible outcomes of any type of medical care is when the treatment someone receives causes them unexpected harm due to an error or failure in the health care system. Preventable medical errors occur in all areas of health care, and by some estimates they are widespread..."
    FULL DETAILS: Read them here.
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RELATED LINKS

HOW TO COVER THE MEETING

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