EXPLORER is a multi-institutional consortium established to design, develop and construct the world’s highest sensitivity positron emission tomography (PET) scanner for a wide range of biomedical research applications.
PET is an extremely safe medical imaging technique that allows specific molecular targets and pathways to be imaged non-invasively using tiny amounts or radioactively-tagged compounds. There are thousands of PET scanners across the world performing millions of PET scans in patients each year.
The EXPLORER scanner is projected to have an effective sensitivity for total body imaging that is 40-fold higher than current commercial scanners and will is anticipated to open up completely new ways in which PET can be used in biomedical research and ultimately in clinical practice. This massive increase in sensitivity can be used in a number of ways, for example to perform scans at extremely low radiation doses (similar magnitude to the dose received from a round trip flight between San Francisco and London), to perform scans much more quickly, or to image molecular targets that are present in low abundance and beyond the limits of detection of current scanners.
A broad range of total-body imaging applications exist for EXPLORER, including, but not limited to, improved metastasis detection in cancer, studies of trafficking patterns in cell-based therapies, very low dose evaluation of new drug pharmacokinetics in all the organs of the body, studies of metabolic disorders, autoimmune disease and other chronic conditions, toxicological research, and research into systems medicine, including endocrine and immunological signalling related to the brain-gut and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axes which are implicated in a range of debilitating disorders including irritable bowel syndrome. The goal is to make EXPLORER widely accessible to the broader imaging and clinical research communities as an international facility.