Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

New technology looks set to spare lives of lab rats


Thousands of white rats used in medical experiments every year could be spared thanks to a new imaging system which is able to view their tiny organs without killing them.

Li Pai-chi (李百祺), a professor in the Electronic Engineering Department at National Taiwan University who led the team which developed the device, said on Wednesday that the Ultrasonic Micro-imaging system has a resolution of 50 microns and is able to penetrate up to 2cm.


This offers 10 times more clarity and a thousand times more sensitivity than the existing system used to examine human bodies.

Explaining the device's benefits, Li said that if an experiment required 100 white rats, with 10 of them killed weekly to observe the growth of tumors, the new system would save on the cost and trouble of conducting autopsies on these animals.

By creating ultrasonic images of the animals every week, the number of rats needed for the experiment could be cut to only 10.


The system can monitor their hearts and even the development of capillaries on their tumors.

These are invisible to existing ultrasonic imaging systems because the white rats are about one thousandth the size of a human, Li said.

Using the new device, Li and his team will be able to devote themselves to developing the contrast agents needed when viewing the imaging of different tumors.

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