5.4 million euros to better visualize the effectiveness of medicines

The international Photonics Translational Research - Medical Photonics (MEDPHOT) consortium led by professor of Biophotonics Johannes de Boer of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will receive 5.4 million euros from the Perspective Program of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for the program 'Light for a better view on diseases'. The research will be partly done in the recently opened Amsterdam UMC Imaging Center.

11/07/2019 | 8:33 AM

Radioactivity-based PET scans depict abnormal tissue such as tumors. By using light instead of radioactivity, you can image ten to a hundred times sharper and even see a cluster of a few cells. These sharper images can be used to predict which medications will be successful in which patients, enabling faster, better and cheaper treatment.

MEDPHOT wants to develop a light-based equivalent of a PET / CT or PET / MRI scan that makes both molecular and structural images. The researchers use fluorescent "flags" for diseases such as esophageal cancer, rectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma and Alzheimer's disease. These flags bind to molecules that are specific to the condition in question and light up when they are illuminated by a light source. To be able to see the flags, the researchers are developing the technology needed to detect those small emitted light beams, and thus make the cells that are searched visible.

“The benefits of using light for medical imaging are not limited to achieving a higher resolution - you also prevent radiation damage because you do not have to administer a radioactive substance. In addition, you can apply multiple "flags" that have different colors, while with PET scans you can only see one flag at a time", says program leader Johannes de Boer in his lab.

MEDPHOT consortium
The national consortium consists of four universities (VU Amsterdam, UvA, UU, TU Delft) and TNO, three academic hospitals (Amsterdam UMC, UMC Groningen, Leiden UMC) and twelve (inter) national companies (ASML, CHDR, Dispertech, Elesta, Exometry , GlycanScan, Mauna Kea, Ninepoint Medical, Optos, Percuros, Spectradyne and Thorlabs). The consortium wants to improve the diagnosis and treatment of a number of common diseases.

Perspective price
Perspective is an NWO program that is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. With the program, scientists set up new lines of research with economic and social impact in cooperation with the business community and social organizations. A total of 75 scientists will be working on research focused on technological innovations within five new research programs, which together have been awarded nearly 18 million euros. The companies and organizations involved are also investing a further eight million euros in research, which is aimed at economic opportunities within societal challenges.

About NWO Applied and Technical Sciences
The NWO domain Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW), formerly Technology Foundation STW, wants to promote technical-scientific research with application and impact for people and society. To shape this mission, TTW focuses on the following three goals for the period 2019-2022: a strengthened technical-scientific foundation, efficient innovation chains and visible social impact.