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World’s first high-resolution cryogenic 3D and non-destructive imaging of whole human lungs for biomedical research
Group Members
Dean Chambers, Matthew Horlock, Jer Ing Lim, Dominic Martin, Martyn Matt, Yen Peng Quek
Professor Ian Sinclair, Dr Philipp Schneider, Thom Bostock, Mark Mavrogordato, Dr Orestis Katsamenis
Twenty percent of the UK population suffer from a long-term respiratory problem. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the only major cause of death that is increasing and is predicted to become the fourth leading cause of death by 2020. The majority of whole organ level structural analysis researchers have access to is outdated, comprising of twodimensional (2D) histology images - that does not clearly show the lung’s three-dimensional (3D) features - and information from clinical MRI imaging that is not of a high enough resolution to observe the small airways. To develop structural analysis of the lung, a technique to image a whole inflated lung rather than wax impregnated tissue is required.

With the aim of providing high resolution microstructural 3D images of a full lung preserved in a close to native state, a cryogenic 3D non-destructive imaging approach has been developed in this project. The project developed this approach by the design and manufacture of a custom-built cryogenic apparatus that can hold the lung tissue still to micrometre precision during image acquisition, keeping it frozen using a cryogenic cooling system. The apparatus conforms to the requirements of micro computed tomography (CT) ensuring the images produced are clear.

The design process of the apparatus involved initial prototyping, testing in the cryogenics laboratory and manufacture in the EDMC, culminating in scanning an inflated lung in one of the CT scanners in the μ-VIS facility. The images produced will be analysed, benefitting researchers, students and lecturers in the academic community interested in lung diseases.
Prototype system testing within the CT Scanner.
CT scan of lung sample.
CT scan of lung sample.
CT scan of lung sample.