Imagine a bell ringing: a bright, clear tone means it is well built, a distortion means something is wrong with it. Based on the same principle, the sound of billions of tiny bells injected in our blood vessels can help us identify something wrong in our body, like breast cancer for example.
Libertario Demi, professor of the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science, used this image to describe the ultrasound diagnostic technique that he has been studying for years. His works were published in many international science journals, in particular: in 2015, his method was featured in Physics in Medicine and Biology; in 2016 one of his articles was chosen as editor’s picks in Highlight Radiotherapy Physics Papers, by the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO); and in 2017 it was published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Libertario Demi is project coordinator of the University's 2020 campaign to collect pre-tax donations. "Utopia encourages us to go on, and the progress of science encourages us to be determined. In this way, utopia becomes an objective we must achieve", he comments.
In our case, the turning point will be to make sure that the new diagnostic technique, named "dynamic contrast specific ultrasound tomography for breast imaging", can be implemented at the end of the experimental test phase. Demi described its advantages: "This ultrasound technique requires no compression (which is often painful) and is safe and complete because it gives us tri-dimensional images and can potentially provide very useful information on breast tissue and the vascular structure".
The advantages for patients
"This is a pain-free technique: women receive an injection containing the microbubbles; then they will simply place their breasts in a container filled with lukewarm water where are the sensors that are capable of picking up the signal transmitted by the bubbles from the blood vessels".
These microbubbles, like tiny bells, are the contrast agents that will provide us with information on the blood vessels and their structure from within. The huge amount of data that are generated and need to be processed require a powerful and accurate instrument that is capable of scanning quickly and with precision.
And these are the main obstacles for ultrasound tomography. "Unfortunately – explains Demi – the microbubbles were not designed for this use and there is no ultrasound imaging technique for contrast agents in tomography imaging. The research challenge here is to develop algorithms to create and reconstruct images, microbubbles and a dedicated scanner".
We must face this challenge because early diagnosis is fundamental to increase the survival rate for the most common female cancer, which affects more than two million women every year. It is estimated that breast cancer was responsible for the death of 627,000 women in 2018 (source: WHO).
A young researcher will be given the opportunity to be part of this challenge for three years at UniTrento. And taxpayers can do their part and donate their 5x1000 to the 2020 campaign "Tu/Amore al seno" to the University of Trento. The campaign is also supported locally by the Provincial Health Care Service, Confindustria Trento and the Pharmacists Association of the Province of Trento.
How it works
Just tell it to your tax filing service (CAF) or accountant when it’s time.
To make your donation to the University of Trento, you have to:
1. Sign the relevant box in the form that the Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) uses for tax returns:
Form CU 2020 – “Scheda per la scelta della destinazione dell’8x1000, del 5x1000 e del 2x1000 dell'IRPEF";
Form 730/2019 – 2019 tax return;
Form Unico for natural persons 2020 – 2019 tax return.
You can choose only one recipient for your donation.
2. State the University of Trento tax identification number: 00340520220.
Please note that writing the tax identification number is essential to make sure that the University of Trento will receive your donation.