iThera Medical leads €1.9m research project to advance optoacoustic imaging technology towards AI-supported quantitative medical diagnosis

Medical device company iThera Medical announces the kickoff of the Bavarian state-funded technology innovation project DeepOPUS. The project aims to augment the company’s proprietary optoacoustic imaging technology using AI technology, developing it into a quantitative diagnostic method for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and beyond.

Multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) is an innovative, non-invasive diagnostic imaging method that provides information about tissue status based on the detection of disease biomarkers. The fundamental technology has already demonstrated its clinical value through numerous clinical pilot trials in a variety of disease areas – including in IBD, where MSOT may offer an effective alternative to the highly invasive gold standard procedure of colonoscopy to monitor disease status.

Commenced on 1st September 2021, the project DeepOPUS (highly integrated DEtEction Platform for improved quantification and increased framerate in OPtoacoustic and UltraSound imaging) aims to further advance the established MSOT technology through use of AI. These developments will enhance diagnostic and computational performance as well as reduce the cost of the device. Led by Munich-based iThera Medical in partnership with the Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) and the Institute for Computational Biology (ICB) of the Helmholtz Center Munich, DeepOPUS will encompass both hard- and software developments to the current MSOT technology.

A primary goal of the project is to increase the MSOT image quality with advanced AI methods for better usability and higher diagnostic accuracy. Furthermore, the advances made under DeepOPUS will enable fast ultrasound imaging to compete with state-of-the-art clinical sonography and thus facilitate adoption of MSOT in a routine clinical setting. Finally, a more compact and efficient design will result in an electronics platform that is both half the size and half the cost compared to the present version.

Stefan Morscher, project leader of DeepOPUS and VP of Software Development at iThera Medical, relays his enthusiasm: “We are extremely excited to lift clinical diagnostics to a new level through the introduction of groundbreaking AI technology in an MSOT device. This will make the technology applicable to a wider patient population.”

Dr. Dominik Jüstel, research group leader at IBMI and ICB, adds: “I am very keen to see algorithmic advances at our institute leveraged in such close collaboration with an industry partner to have a direct impact on MSOT imaging in the clinics.”

DeepOPUS marks a key step towards establishing MSOT as a competitor in the broader medical imaging market, where the technology promises to deliver meaningful benefits to clinicians and their patients.

 

About iThera Medical

Since its incorporation in 2010, iThera Medical develops and markets optoacoustic imaging systems for preclinical and clinical research. More recently, the company has started translating its technology for routine diagnostic clinical use across various types of diseases, including cancer, inflammatory, fibrotic, and cardiovascular diseases. Optoacoustic imaging utilizes the photoacoustic effect – the conversion of light energy into acoustic signals – to visualize and quantify optical contrast in deep tissue, at high spatial and temporal resolution. For details see: www.ithera-medical.com.

 

The DeepOPUS project is funded through the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Landesentwicklung und Energie) under grant agreement No DIE-2106-0004 // DIE0161/01. The material presented and views expressed are the responsibility of the author(s) only. The Bavarian state takes no responsibility for any use made of the information set out.

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