Major breakthrough in cancer, TB scanners in SA

The scanner's main purpose is to significantly speed up the diagnosis process for cancer-spread and TB.

South Africa has seen the introduction of a scanner that significantly accelerates the diagnostic process for cancer-spread and tuberculosis. Picture: Anne Grobler.

JOHANNESBURG - South African researchers have made a major breakthrough in the cancer and tuberculosis field with a scanner that will soon allow them to eliminate many side effects of drugs taken by patients and administer treatment effectively among others.

The main purpose of it is to significantly speed up the diagnosis process for cancer-spread and tuberculosis.

The development is thanks to a partnership between the North-West University (NWU), the University of Pretoria (UP); as well as the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa).

Through their partnership, researchers have been concentrating on the development of drugs used for the treatment, the detection and the identification of cancer in the human body.

Professor Anne Grobler, Director of the Preclinical Drug Development Platform at the NWU said, "This scanner enables research and applications that will result in more effective and safer treatment of cancer in the future. It opens investigations and studies in the medical world of South Africa that to date have been impossible."

With the introduction of this scanner, researchers will be able to determine much quicker and far better how particular medication works in the body.

But most importantly, with the R6 million equipment which can be described as a modern PET/CT scanner, they will be able to determine much sooner which cancer to diagnose, where exactly it occurs, how far it has progressed, how the medication is being absorbed in the human body and how it is spreading.

The scanner is a first on the African continent and will initially be used to test the effect of medication on animals before it can be used on humans.