Originally created 08/25/06

Technology in works to detect bird flu



AIKEN - Savannah River National Laboratory is collaborating with a Virginia company to develop X-ray technology that can rapidly detect respiratory illnesses such as avian flu, officials announced Thursday.

The lab and Digitome Corp., based in Alexandria, Va., will spend the next year researching and developing technologies that can detect lung abnormalities visible on chest X-rays, according to a news release from the national lab.

Digitome is funding the research and will have first right to any new technology, said Angie French, a spokeswoman for the lab. Officials did not disclose financial details.

"This research is based on Digitome's patented 'volumetric' X-ray technology, which reconstructs the full volume of an object - such as a lung - displaying any plane on any axis," the lab's news release states.

Officials will use digital radiographic imaging, an X-ray technique that does not require film and captures images quickly, in hopes of detecting "salient features of the avian flu virus and other communicable respiratory abnormalities."

The national lab, meanwhile, has expertise in digital radiography gathered from years of structural scanning at the Savannah River Site nuclear reservation.

It has created software that hospitals use to archive and transmit radiographic and photographic images, the news release states.

The lab will make sure that digitized images produced with Digitome's method are compatible with that software.

"Developing technology to find lung abnormalities may seem like an odd endeavor for us, but actually it's an excellent fit with our existing missions," national lab director Dr. Todd Wright said in a statement.

The Medical College of Georgia and Talisman, Ltd., a company that specializes in capturing data that assists with image analysis, also will participate in the research project.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.