A one-million-Euro European grant goes to researchers at the University of Twente’s MIRA research institute (The Netherlands). The budget will be used for a variety of purposes, including a study into on the combination of photoacoustics and standard ultrasound. This study will investigate whether that approach could be useful in detecting rheumatoid arthritis. This University of Twente study is part of a larger, collaborative project aimed at developing a working prototype of a device that combines both medical imaging techniques mentioned.
The consortium that has been awarded this European (FP7) grant includes the manufacturer Esaote Europe BV, the University of Twente, Hospital Group Twente, Osram, and the Eindhoven University of Technology. The aim of the study is to develop a working prototype of a device that combines photoacoustics with standard ultrasound. Prof. Wiendelt Steenbergen of the University of Twente’s Biomedical Photonic Imaging Department, a photoacoustics specialist, feels that a combination of both techniques could be a genuine asset for the care sector. “Ultrasound shows you the body’s structural features, while photoacoustics enables you to focus specifically on functional information, such as the oxygen saturation level of a subject’s blood. It would be very useful if, in the future, physicians could view and record real-time images combining both structural and functional information.”
Adding value to rheumatoid arthritis imaging: within the larger context of the main project, Prof. Steenbergen’s group is working with the Hospital Group Twente’s Department of Rheumatology to assess the combined technique’s potential added value in the imaging of rheumatoid arthritis. They are looking into the feasibility of using this method for early detection, and whether it could be used at an early stage to track the efficacy of specific drugs, for example. Other partners in the project are exploring potential oncological and cardiovascular applications.
The project will start this autumn, and will run for four years. Prof. Steenbergen’s group will use the grant to recruit two PhD students.