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ECU researchers break new ground in the fight against breast cancer

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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ECU has launched two innovative new breast cancer research projects this month.

Researchers from the Vario Health Institute (VHI) and the Electron Science Research Institute (ESRI) are working with the developers of a new breast imaging technology to determine if the system can provide a more accurate, user-friendly alternative to traditional scanning techniques.

The Near Infrared Breast Scanner (NIBS) has been developed by a Chinese company, Daheng Group, as an alternative to mammograms and ultra-sound methods for detecting breast cancer.

The NIBS is completely painless, has no harmful side effects and can be used repeatedly.

The high resolution imaging enables early screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, and unlike current scanning techniques, the NIBS can be used safely on women with implants, of all ages and regardless of breast size or density.

The team at VHI, led by Professor Rob Newton, are conducting a clinical trial with breast cancer patients in Perth to assess the capabilities of the device and the potential applications.

If the trials prove successful, the NIBS could be used in Australia for earlier diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, potentially saving thousands of lives each year.

ECU has the only two NIBS devices in Australia, and results from the trial will be available early in 2010.

The project was launched on Friday, 19 June by Ros Worthington OAM, founder of the Breast Cancer Foundation of WA.

ESRI, under the leadership of Professor Kamal Alameh, is working to further develop the NIBS to increase accuracy and make the technology more user-friendly with the latest advances in photonics research.

ECU's Professor Lelia Green, Ms Leesa Bonniface and Mrs Vanessa Bradshaw, who also works for the Breast Cancer Foundation of WA, have received $220,000 from the Australian Research Council to develop an online community to support breast cancer survivors.

The team will work to improve education and support for women living with breast cancer, with the ultimate aim of achieving earlier detection of breast cancer, and enhanced recovery rates.

The project investigates whether the 'cluster-power' of social networking software can be harnessed to build integrated and supportive online communities.

The new online community will offer people a chance to talk about their experiences and share their concerns with others who know what they're going through.

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