Gandel Philanthropy recently awarded Cure4 Cystic Fibrosis $167,000 to fund the appointment of an X-Ray Lung Functioning Imaging Analyst based at Monash University and the Australian Synchrotron.
Dr Freda Werdinger has been appointed to the full-time role for an 18-month period. She is a Victorian based computed tomographic X-ray velocimetry (CTXV) expert and holds a BSc in physics and computation maths with honours in physics in 2010. In 2016 she received her PhD in Theoretical Physics, specialising in field theory.
Dr Werdinger’s appointment will enable the mass data generated through the Fay Fuller Discovery research project, to be quickly and fully analysed. Because CTXV is a revolutionary new method there are very few people sufficiently “skilled in the art”, the CFARG estimate there are only 3-4 people in the world with the training and experience necessary to perform CTXV data analysis.
Until recently researchers have not been able to accurately pinpoint and measure changes in disease development, or responses to treatment such as a gene vector, within the lungs of a live animal or a human.
The severity of CF lung disease is traditionally measured using a lung function test. In this test the patient blows into a device called a spirometer that produces a single measurement of how the entire lung is functioning (a measurement called FEV1, the volume of air they can exhale in 1 second) and can only be performed after a child turns six due to the complicated patient involvement in the test. Importantly, these tests are very limited in their ability to detect small changes in lung function, early disease in children, or identify their origin within the lung.
CFARG have been collaborators in the development of a new application of X-ray lung imaging for CF, with researchers from Monash University. This unique 4D (3D, plus time) imaging method called computed tomographic X-ray velocimetry (CTXV), uses X-rays to gather lung motion information during normal breathing, and coupled with advanced processing techniques, it gives researchers detailed information on lung function in any airway or region in the lung. This method has revolutionary potential since it can detect, quantify and follow changes in the diseased regions of lung over time.
Thanks to Gandel Philanthropy and their very generous grant, Dr Werdinger will now perform this critical work.