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Space tech key to future of healthcare

This composite image of the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, part of the Orion Nebula complex, is composed of several pointings of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in optical and near-infrared light. Infrared light allows to peer through the dust of the nebula and to see the stars therein. The revealed stars are shown with a bright red colour in the image. European Space Agency/NASA/Hubble/Flickr (CC BY 4.0)

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When dreaming up ground-breaking technologies, the mantra is always to shoot for the stars. One U.K. company, Adaptix, has taken that idea literally. It’s developing a portable 3D X-ray machine based on space technology that was used in the 1990s to study stars in X-ray faraway galaxies.

The firm, based in Oxford, just won a $1.3 million grant from the U.K. Space Agency to help bring the product to market next year. Adaptix founder and chief science officer, Gil Travish, says the device could improve diagnostics from the dentist’s chair to the oncology unit, because it’s more accurate, cheaper and easier to use. 

“There’s the 2D imaging. That’s cheap and easy to deploy, but it isn’t good for identifying things like lung cancer or even subtle bone fractures … 3D imaging with CT [does] produce wonderful imaging, but costs 10 times more, about $1 million per unit. They give you 10 times the [radiation] dose, or more, of a regular chest x-ray. And they take long, and can only be used in a radiation lab,” Travish said. 

Adaptix plans to roll out the technology next year — with uses not only in developed countries like the U.K. and U.S., but in emerging countries where access to technology is limited. 

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