Developing the next generation nuclear medicine breast cancer imaging tool

      Comments Off on Developing the next generation nuclear medicine breast cancer imaging tool

Members of NMPCE and Radiology, in collaboration with local company Kromek, Newcastle University (NU) and University College London (UCL), have been awarded a three year Innovate UK biomedical catalyst grant worth two million pounds.

The project focusses on the development and evaluation of Kromek’s next generation tomographic Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) technology which is an emerging nuclear medicine breast cancer imaging tool. The team hopes that this next generation MBI machine will provide a safe, accurate and cost-effective imaging tool for women with dense breast tissue, in whom mammography has reduced sensitivity (Kolb et al., 2002, Rosenberg et al., 1998).

Kromek’s new detector and image reconstruction technology aims to improve on current Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) devices on the market in the USA. The new detectors allow for a significantly lower radiation dose to the patient, whilst maintaining equivalent or potentially further improved the image resolution to current commercial MBI systems.

Building on work undertaken by the team and Kromek since 2018 (see a previous NMPCE blog), the new project will involve:

  • Production of a full-sized, clinical MBI system incorporating the new detector technology.
  • Technical evaluation of the system.
  • A health economic analysis.
  • A qualitative study to collect stakeholder feedback.
  • A first-in-person clinical study of the device at the RVI.

Within NuTH and NU, the project will be undertaken by the team listed in Table 1. The work will be led by Alison Bray, Lead Healthcare Scientist, and Helen Elliott, Research Scientist, and will involve staff members with the relevant expertise across the organisations. Figure 1 shows some of team members from Kromek, UCL and NuTH.

Alison says, ‘We are delighted to have been awarded further funding to continue this programme of work. We look forward to collaborating with our NuTH colleagues, patient representatives, and the partner organisations to bring this technology one step closer to addressing the significant problem of detecting cancers in women with dense breast tissue.’.

Further information is provided on the NuTH website.

The team

From L-R: Prof Kris Thielemans, Professor in Medical Imaging Physics at UCL, Prof Brian Hutton, Honorary Professor of Medical Physics in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Science at UCL, Kjell Erlandsson, Senior Research Fellow at UCL, Helen Elliott, Research Scientist at NuTH, Dr Alison Bray, Lead Healthcare Scientist at NuTH, Andrew Wirth, Image Reconstruction Physicist at Kromek, and Ian Baistow, Project Manager at Kromek. The photographer, and so sadly missing from the photo, was Dr Alexander Cherlin, Principal Physicist at Kromek.
PersonRoleGroup, DepartmentOrganisation
Alison BrayLead Healthcare ScientistClinical Engineering, NMPCENuTH
Michael DrinnanHead of Clinical EngineeringClinical Engineering, NMPCENuTH
Helen ElliottResearch ScientistClinical Engineering, NMPCENuTH
Nerys ForesterConsultant RadiologistBreast Screening, RadiologyNuTH
Karen GannonPatient Representative Various including Breast Cancer Now, Northern Cancer Alliance
Kile GreenSenior Test Evaluation MethodologistNewcastle NIHR MICNU
Anna HalsteadProject ManagerNewcastle NIHR MICNU
Liz JeffersonHead of Nuclear MedicineNuclear Medicine, RadiologyNuTH
Clare LendremSenior Statistical MethodologistNewcastle NIHR MICNU
Richard PeaceDeputy Head of Nuclear MedicineNuclear Medicine, RadiologyNuTH
George PetridesConsultant RadiologistNuclear Medicine, RadiologyNuTH
Tim PowellClinical Scientist (Pre-Registrant)Clinical Measurement, NMPCENuTH
Erika RidleyHealth Promotion OfficerBreast Screening, RadiologyNuTH
Cameron WilliamsClinical Test Evaluation MethodologistNewcastle NIHR MICNU
The NuTH/NU project team


KOLB, T. M., LICHY, J. & NEWHOUSE, J. H. 2002. Comparison of the Performance of Screening Mammography, Physical Examination, and Breast US and Evaluation of Factors that Influence Them: An Analysis of 27,825 Patient Evaluations. Radiology, 225, 165-175.

ROSENBERG, R. D., HUNT, W. C., WILLIAMSON, M. R., GILLILAND, F. D., WIEST, P. W., KELSEY, C. A., KEY, C. R. & LINVER, M. N. 1998. Effects of age, breast density, ethnicity, and estrogen replacement therapy on screening mammographic sensitivity and cancer stage at diagnosis: review of 183,134 screening mammograms in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Radiology, 209, 511-8.


MBI: Molecular Breast Imaging

NIHR MIC: National Institute for Health and Care Research MedTech and In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative

NMPCE: Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering

NU: Newcastle University

NuTH: Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

RVI: Royal Victoria Infirmary

UCL: University College London