Skip to content

CherPET: Cherenkov light in medical imaging

The ERC funded Proof-of-Concept project CherPET, a spin-off of the FAIME project, took off end of 2023. Its aim is to make use of the development of detectors for particle physics to boost the performance of a medical imaging method.

The paradigm shift in medicine from the treatment of acute or advanced disease to very early diagnosis and even prevention in cancer, as well as in personalized treatment, puts more stringent requirements on positron-emission (PET) imaging both in terms of sensitivity as well as specificity. Novel long axial PET scanners with an axial field of view that can be greater than 1m offer a very attractive solution to many of these challenges, in particular if they are combined with the Time-of-flight (TOF) PET technology. The time-of-flight resolution of PET scanners is limited by the timing spread due to delayed scintillation emission. By using prompt Cherenkov photons instead, the coincidence timing resolution can be improved. We propose to prove the feasibility of the above idea by combining a set of several break-through innovation steps, latest advances in photon detection with large area fast photon detectors and in the low-noise fast timing electronics. The PET detector that we would develop in the proposed project would allow for a construction of a PET scanner at a lower cost, better performance and ease of handling, if compared with the state-of-the-art clinical devices. If successful, our technology will represent a paradigm shift in the use of PET for cancer diagnosis, staging, restaging, prodromal detection of neurodegenerative and cardiac diseases as well as treatment guidance and monitoring.