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publication date: Jul 27, 2020
author/source: Bruker Corporation


Virologists and Lung Disease Specialists Commission Bruker´s micro-CT for some of the World’s First in vivo COVID-19 Imaging Experiments.

Bruker's BioSpin PreClinical Imaging Division reports the use of the Bruker SkyScan 1278 in vivo micro-CT system at the KU Leuven, Belgium, to support COVID-19-focused research. This research will leverage the university's expertise in preclinical testing to study the efficacy of vaccine and drug candidates in COVID-19 infection models. These will be some of the first in vivo imaging experiments on COVID-19 models using mice and hamsters. It will also allow researchers to better understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to lung damage.

As one of the trustworthy methods in diagnosing lung pathology in a clinical setting, computed tomography (CT) is found to be ideally suited for diagnosing COVID-19 virus-induced lung infections. This technique is now being translated to laboratory animals for preclinical research towards finding an efficient vaccine and antiviral drugs.

Significant groundwork on diseased lung imaging has been made by the KU Leuven team led by Professor Vande Velde using the SkyScan 1278 at MoSAIC, which now collaborates with the laboratory of Virology of Prof. Johan Neyts from the Rega Institute and the Laboratory of Clinical and Epidemiological Virology, led by Professor Marc Van Ranst, for COVID-19 research.

The REGA Institute is dedicating its Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory to COVID-19 research, recently installing KU Leuven's second SkyScan 1278 instrument. Professor Johan Neyts, virologist commented: "We are developing a vaccine for the prevention and drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 infections. The new micro-CT scanner will help us identify which of these candidates could make it through to clinical trials."

Professor Greetje Vande Velde, Principal Investigator at the core facility Molecular Small Animal Imaging Center (MoSAIC) and at the KU Leuven Faculty of Medicine, explained: "We have implemented micro-CT protocols for various lung disease models such as fungal infections or influenza virus infection. [1]. It has been possible to translate these into COVID animal models, to apply non-destructive in vivo imaging to examine SARS-CoV-2-based lung infections and potential treatments. The low radiation dose possible with the SkyScan 1278 is a really important development - we can image the same animal repeatedly, obtaining high quality 3D images over long time periods without harming the animal."

Bruker offers the world's fastest, low-dose, high-throughput micro-CT, the SkyScan 1278, which enables non-invasive, longitudinal imaging studies to obtain quantitative data on lung disease processes and treatment responses. The new micro-CT spatial beam shaper reduces the absorbed dose by up to five times while maintaining high quality image output.

The KU Leuven MoSAIC houses state-of-the-art in vivo imaging infrastructure and expertise for the non-invasive and longitudinal assessment of preclinical disease and therapy models in a biosafety level 2 (BSL2) environment. MoSAIC is well-equipped with Bruker imaging systems, including a 9.4T MRI system, a 7T PET/MRI scanner, a SkyScan 1076 micro-CT and a SkyScan 1278 micro-CT.

Prof. Vande Velde and Prof. Neyts work together in a translational approach, combining expertise in micro-CT imaging technology and virology, respectively, to tackle the modern threat of COVID-19.

References: 1. Vande Velde et al. Disease Models & Mechanisms (2016) 9: 91-98.


Learn more about SkyScan 1278 micro-CT


About KU Leuven

KU Leuven is Europe's most innovative university (Reuters) and ranks 48th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. As Belgium's largest university, KU Leuven welcomes over 60,000 students from over 140 countries. Its 7,000 researchers are active in a comprehensive range of disciplines. KU Leuven is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and has a strong European and international orientation. University Hospitals Leuven, its network of research hospitals, provides high-quality healthcare and develops new therapeutic and diagnostic insights with an emphasis on translational research.


About Bruker Corporation

Bruker is enabling scientists to make breakthrough discoveries and develop new applications that improve the quality of human life. Bruker's high-performance scientific instruments and high-value analytical and diagnostic solutions enable scientists to explore life and materials at molecular, cellular and microscopic levels. In close cooperation with our customers, Bruker is enabling innovation, improved productivity and customer success in life science molecular research, in applied and pharma applications, in microscopy and nanoanalysis, and in industrial applications, as well as in cell biology, preclinical imaging, clinical phenomics and proteomics research and clinical microbiology



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