Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Approach Allows Closer Look At Smoker Lungs

Date:
May 30, 2006
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Aided by a powerful imaging technique, scientists have discovered they can detect smoking-related lung damage in healthy smokers who otherwise display none of the telltale signs of tobacco use.

Aided by a powerful imaging technique, scientists have discovered they can detect smoking-related lung damage in healthy smokers who otherwise display none of the telltale signs of tobacco use.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to probe deeper into smokers' lungs by tracking the movement in the respiratory organs of a harmless gas known as helium. Helium can be inhaled and visually detected via the widely used diagnostic technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces high-contrast images of the body's soft tissues. The use of helium is a departure from traditional MRI, which typically distinguishes body tissues from one another by tracking differences in water content.

Writing in the journal Radiology, the UW-Madison scientists suggest that in comparison to existing imaging methods, the helium-based approach could enable doctors to assess lung health more accurately, as well as spot smoking-associated diseases much sooner.

"It's one thing to see a [lung] disease that was already diagnosed, but another to see changes that no one predicted were there," says lead author Sean Fain, a UW-Madison assistant professor of medical physics. "This approach allows us to look at lung micro-structures that are on the scale of less than a millimeter."

Cigarettes can contribute to the onset of respiratory conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. In emphysema in particular, the alveoli - tiny sacs in the lungs that transfer oxygen to blood - gradually break down. Fain and his team therefore reasoned that helium gas molecules are likely to have more space to move around in lungs with fewer functioning alveoli.

Testing that theory among eight non-smokers and 11 healthy smokers with no obvious lung damage, Fain found that the movement or "diffusion coefficient" of helium gas molecules did indeed correlate with how much a person smokes, with greater movement indicating a higher level of lung damage. But a more commonly used imaging technique, known as computed tomography, failed to register a similar correlation.

"Our technique is potentially more sensitive than established [imaging] techniques," says Fain. "This is the first time structural changes have been shown in the lungs of asymptomatic smokers."

Fain says helium-based MRI scans could one day help to gauge the efficacy of experimental drug therapies aiming to reduce smoking-related lung damage. The approach may also help to screen for people who might be genetically predisposed to conditions such as emphysema. In future work, Fain plans to dig deeper, to understand the underlying factors that lead to micro-structural breakdown in lungs.

Other co-authors of the study were Michael Evans, an assistant researcher in the department of biostatistics and medical informatics; Thomas Grist and Frank Korosec, both UW-Madison professors of radiology; and Shilpa Panth, a biomedical engineering researcher.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "New Approach Allows Closer Look At Smoker Lungs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530202259.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2006, May 30). New Approach Allows Closer Look At Smoker Lungs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530202259.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "New Approach Allows Closer Look At Smoker Lungs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530202259.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins