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Bug Busters: Hopkins to Host Symposium On Infection Imaging

MEDIA CONTACT: Ekaterina Pesheva
EMAIL: epeshev1@jhmi.edu
PHONE: (410) 502-9433

August 22, 2011

The symposium will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, at the Albert Owens Auditorium in the Koch Cancer Research Building on Jefferson Street, between Caroline and Broadway.  Reporters who wish to attend the event and/or to arrange an interview with one of the presenters, should contact Ekaterina Pesheva, epeshev1@jhmi.edu, 410-502-9433 or 410-926-6780 cell.  

Doctors can peer inside the human body to look for tumors, detect a blockage in an artery or see a crack in a bone, but common afflictions like bacterial and viral infections are far more difficult to track, and even the most sophisticated imaging devices can only offer a less-than-definitive answer.“Although CT scans and MRIs can spot disease, they can’t always reliably tell a physician if that suspicious shade they see on the screen is a tumor or a hotbed of bacteria,” says imaging innovator and infectious disease specialist Sanjay Jain, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

But what if doctors could look inside the body and spot hidden pockets of infection or simmering epicenters of inflammation and promptly tell them apart from other diseases? What if they could monitor, in real time, how bacteria respond to medication and adjust treatment accordingly? Novel techniques — now in development and being tested in animals — are already making some of it possible, paving the way to a new era in diagnosing and monitoring infectious disease.

Physicians and scientists will gather at the Koch Cancer Research Building at Johns Hopkins on Sept. 13 to unveil the latest approaches to imaging infection and inflammation. Conceived by Jain and colleagues at Hopkins and organized by the Center for Infection and Inflammation Imaging Research (Ci3R), the symposium will feature a dozen or so speakers from Hopkins and elsewhere, with cross-disciplinary areas of expertise, including infectious diseases, radiology, oncology, mathematics, clinical imaging sciences and others.

Even though the standard blood draw and bacterial count will remain a doctor’s best way to track infection, the new imaging approaches will add a new powerful tool to the doctor’s arsenal, experts predict.

“These new techniques will be particularly invaluable in situations when we cannot draw a patient’s blood or do a surgical biopsy,” says neuroradiologist Dima Hammoud, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health.But although the new imaging techniques will undeniably help clinicians on the frontlines, they may play an even greater role in the lab.

“We are already combining some of the new techniques with mathematical analysis and computer programs to solve medical research puzzles,” says mathematician and imaging scientist Bruno Jedynak, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Center for Imaging Science.

Some topics of discussion include:Seeing HIV Beyond the T-cell Count: Using novel “tracers” to monitor HIV inflammation, dementia and neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with HIV infection.

  • Tracking Bacteria: New approaches to imaging infection and monitoring disease response to treatment, such as a new TB-tracking method developed by Jain and colleagues at Hopkins.
  • Inflammation: Tracking inflammation, a state that accompanies almost all diseases, from infections to cancer to autoimmune disorders
  • A show-and-tell session explaining how infectious disease imaging can help solve research puzzles.
Jain’s research has been funded by the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Related Information:

Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at Johns Hopkins, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is Maryland's largest children's hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.