Imagine a Mammogram that Doesn't Hurt!

UCRF support has enabled Zhou and his colleague, Jianping Lu, to apply new technology to develop a new mammography system for breast cancer early detection. This new system will enable radiologists to detect tumors earlier and without painful compression of the breast.

Otto ZhouOtto Z. Zhou, Ph.D., Lyles Jones Distinguished Professor of Physics and Materials Sciences in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is helping to adapt nanotechnology for the development of novel methods of cancer detection. Zhou has used carbon nanotubes to invent a new way to generate x-rays. This technology has the potential to significantly enhance performance of a wide range of imaging devices - from medical diagnosis to homeland security.

UCRF support has enabled Zhou and his colleague, Jianping Lu, to apply new technology to develop a new mammography system for breast cancer early detection. This new system will enable radiologists to detect tumors earlier and without painful compression of the breast.

The UCRF purchased the equipment they are now using to build a prototype. They have licensed this new technology to Xintek, a UNC start-up company, and their research has attracted one of the world's largest medical instrumentation companies which intends to commercialize the new system.

This research has also led to the formation of a new joint venture company called XinRay Systems, LLC formed with Siemens Medical last summer. XinRay, which is located in the Research Triangle Park, has hired recent UNC graduates and brought Siemens employees from facilities in Germany and China to the RTP area. Next year a new imagingguided radiation therapy device based on XinRay technology will be tested in a clinical trial at the NC Cancer Hospital.

This new device allows oncologists, for the first time, to "see" the tumor in real time during treatment. Technology invented at UNC and commercialized by a UNC start-up based in North Carolina is now coming back to the NC Cancer Hospital, which will be the first U.S. test site.

There is realistic hope that within the next five years, nanotechnology-based imaging technology - developed because of the General Assembly's vision and support - will be used in hospitals across North Carolina and the world to improve our quality of life.