8 December 2011

Physicians show, where it needs to shine

Karlsruhe. On Wednesday, December 7, an international consortium of doctors evaluated on going research projects within Photonics4Life Consortium in Karlsruhe that can better diagnose and treat diseases with the help of optical technologies. At a scientific meeting of the interdisciplinary network Photonics4Life 19 European projects were presented. From those the doctors now selected eight that are the most promising to be put into clinic trials. The project leaders can now present their winning projects across Europe at several important occasions.

"We were especially convinced by research projects that deliberately limited themselves only to a partial area of diagnosis or therapy, but in their domain provide unrivaled technologies," said the head of the six-member consortium, Professor Katarina Svanberg, physician at the Department of Oncology, Lund University Hospital, Sweden. Among the projects awarded, is a collaboration between three scientific partners from Schwizerland, Spain and Sweden who intend to monitor the blood flow of preterm newborns with infrared light to ensure the supply of the brain with oxygen. A consortium of scientists from Germany and Belgium showed their work on a new 3-D endoscope, with which the human bladder can be investigated for malignant growths more accurate than ever before. German researchers are also involved in another excellent project. Along with several groups from Scotland they investigate methods to suppress unwanted background light in tissue spectroscopy in order to identify disease-related tissue changes.

Over the next six months, the selected projects now have the opportunity to go on a "European tour", as expressed by the network coordinator of Photonics4Life, Professor Jürgen Popp. "The researchers have worked hard and developed promising technologies for healthcare. Now they will present their results and hopefully inspire the professional world, "said the scientific director of the Jena Institute of Photonic Technology and director of the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the University of Jena. The winners will be able to present at medical conferences, the 3rd International Congress on Biophotonics – ICOB2012, and at an interdisciplinary summer school in May 2012 in Halle.

The network Photonics4Life intends to contribute to more efficient medical research and therefore started to have physicians evaluate technological projects even during the development phase. Numerous studies have shown that physicians, scientists and technologists must work more closely together to come up with new solutions. A major hurdle in their way is the weak interdisciplinary communication between the parties and the lack of knowledge about other areas of science. Bringing together the key researchers and to improve networking, is the goal of Photonics4Life.

The network is a consortium of 13 leading research institutions, which together have established a European Biophotonics platform for both science and industry. Their goal is to provide an interdisciplinary framework for research in the fragmented sector and to strengthen local, national and European research activities and the communication between technical developers and medical users. Since 2008 the network organizes various interdisciplinary activities to bring together scientists at the European level to close the gap between the disciplines involved in health care and optical technologies. "Interdisciplinary meetings like this one in Karlsruhe are an important tool, because knowing each other is the starting point of mutual interest and thus scientific cooperation," Popp said in conclusion.

Round Robin Experiment

Raman spectroscopy has already proved its effectiveness in many cases for medical diagnostics such as for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and infections. However, there are no standards in the different working groups, e.g. for sample preparation, implementation of the Raman experiments, spectra pre-treatment, data evaluation, etc.In a round robin experiment, the required groundwork will take place in order to define standardised Raman measurement methods, which will be fundamental for establishing Raman spectroscopy for clinical diagnostic procedures.

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