The charitable foundation of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan awards a million dollars to the European research project that has developed a new X-ray tomography technique (called HiP-CT) to look inside the human body with a resolution Without precedents.
The technology was developed thanks to the brightest X-ray source in the world, at the ESRF synchrotron in Grenoble, and has already made it possible to take a 'hallucinatory journey' inside the lung of a Covid-19 victim, showing the damage caused by the SarsCoV2 virus with a definition tens of times higher than that of a common CT scan.
The preliminary results of the study on the diseased lung have been translated into a 3D animation: the video, published on YouTube by the ESRF synchrotron, shows deformations in the bronchi and pulmonary alveoli and makes the entire network of blood vessels of the organ visible, up to the most small capillaries involved in gas exchange in the alveoli.
The parts of the lung filled with air are highlighted in blue, free blood vessels in red and blocked blood vessels in yellow: yet another proof of how alterations in the vascular network play a central role in the disease.
The research project, which can bring about a real turning point in the study of the human body and its diseases, is coordinated by Paul Tafforeau of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) together with Peter Lee and Rebecca Shipley of University College London.
Crucial to its realization was the recent upgrade of the European ESRF supermicroscope: costing 150 million euros, it allowed to install the brightest X-ray source ever obtained (Extremely Brilliant Source, Ebs), based on an idea of the Italian physicist Pantaleo Raimondi.