Fat chance

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

A CAT scanner developed at the Tennessee-based Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is allowing geneticists to watch the effects of a genetic mutation on the organs of a living animal. Called the MicroCAT, the scanner produces images at 10 times the resolution available with conventional CAT scanners. It uses X-ray detectors that are only 50 square micrometers (I1m2), producing images showing detail down to 100 I1m2, according to Michael Paulus, who led the team that developed the system. Typically, CAT scanners for human subjects have detectors that are one square millimeter. Researchers have used the prototype scanner developed at ORNL to examine the internal organs and skeleton of sleeping mice that have a genetic mutation for obesity. "We can now identify where the fat deposits are, how big they are and how dense," says Paulus. Till now, researchers have had to kill and dissect the mice to assess the fat deposits. The new scanner will prove invaluable to all branches ofbioscience, especially to genetic science.

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