A RADIATION detection technology company based in the region has found an exciting new use for its technology to help with the treatment of cancer.

AIM-listed Kromek, based at NETPark, Sedgefield, focuses on the medical, security screening and nuclear markets, developing radiation detection products based on cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) and other advanced technologies.

This week the company has revealed it has begun development of a new system to improve the pathological medical imaging techniques used during cancer surgery to distinguish between healthy and non-healthy tissue.

This is a new application area for Kromek’s technology.

More recently the company has been known for its work in the fields of security and civil nuclear radiation detection which included major contracts with the US Department of Homeland Security.

The three-year project, which has received grant funding from Innovate UK, is being conducted in partnership with Adaptix Ltd, the developer of a Flat Panel X-ray Source (FPS), and the University of Manchester.

When a cancerous tumour is excised, the surgeon also removes some tissue around the edge of the tumour or the ‘margins’ to be sure that all the cancer has been removed and to prevent it spreading.

These margins are checked for cancerous tissue while surgery is ongoing using ‘pathology cabinets’ that provide 2D or 3D images.

The project Kromek is involved in is to develop a prototype of a new type of pathology cabinet, based on its CZT detectors and Adaptix’s FPS, to produce high-resolution 3D images.

These will provide more accurate differentiation of the boundaries between diseased and healthy tissue.

This will enable surgeons to confidently remove the minimum amount of healthy tissue whilst reducing the risk of more than one operation being needed and of cancer spreading from diseased tissue being left after initial surgery.

The new system will also be designed to be cost effective and have a small footprint for ease of use in an operating theatre.

Kromek’s CZT detectors are already incorporated into medical devices used for early detection of diseases such as breast cancer, cardiac conditions and osteoporosis.

Dr Arnab Basu, chief executive officer of Kromek, which is a spin out of Durham University, said: “This is an exciting project for Kromek as it takes our CZT-based detectors into a new application area.

"Our technology is already being used by leading OEMs to enable the early diagnosis of cancer.

"With this system, we will contribute to improving the outcome of surgeries through greater image quality.

"It will reduce the risk of diseased tissue remaining and further surgeries being required while minimising the removal of healthy tissue, which will be of great benefit to both healthcare providers and patients.

"We look forward to working alongside our partners, Adaptix and the University of Manchester, to complete the development of this new system and take it to the next stage.”