Imaging the breathing lung

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1. Summary

My research has led the development of a 4D X-ray based imaging modality that measures tissue motion with very high temporal and spatial resolution for very low levels of X-ray dose; a tool for capturing and analysing haemodynamic forces involved in platelet aggregation and thrombus growth; and more recently, development of a powerful imaging and modelling toolbox to study the developing embryo. 

2. Description

Through my research I have created imaging technology that can provide spatially resolved, quantitative information on biological processes that involve motion, such as blood flow and breathing. I have specifically focused on utilizing this technology to image dynamic processes to better understand normal physiology and how it is altered by disease. This imaging technology allows the in vivo determination of dynamic quantities, such as speed and direction of motion of cells and tissue, volume flows of liquids or gases, stretching and shearing of tissue or the shear created by the movement of fluids or gases over tissue and cells.

Use of these tools has led to significant research findings. The platelet aggregation study found that haemodynamic shear alone, in the absence of soluble agonists, could be responsible for platelet aggregation (published in Nature Medicine 2009). The 4D X-ray modality has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the lungs and diseases that affect the lungs. Small animal studies in models of Cystic Fibrosis, neonatal ventilation, pulmonary fibrosis, Asthma have all demonstrated the effectiveness of this technology and are generating significant levels of attention from both academic and commercial interests, including the largest NHMRC Development Grant awarded to date to translate the technology to the clinic. The embryo toolbox has already generated findings in opposition to the current state of knowledge showing that during the 8-32 cell stage, development is controlled directly by the balance of forces within the embryo.

In December 2012, I founded a medical technology company called 4Dx, with a mission to improve global health by providing non-invasive imaging technologies to create a step change in the capacity of physicians to diagnose, treat and manage respiratory diseases.

Future Plans

The first in-human studies for 4Dx commenced in early 2015 to definitively demonstrate the value of this technology in the radiotherapy setting. Following enhanced cancer treatment, 4Dx technology will enter a phase of massive opportunity in other diagnostic uses, targeting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, asthma and occupational health. Technology variants and dedicated hardware will also allow 4Dx to enter the neonatal, paediatric, pharmaceutical and eHealth spaces, striving for excellence and influence in markets where the technology can make a significant contribution to global health.

3. Additional Details

4dx company profile: http://4dx.com/team/andreas

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Andreas Fouras is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and an NHMRC Career Development Fellow. He leads the Laboratory for Dynamic Imaging at Monash University. ...