Oncovision will develop CareMiBrain, the first commercial PET scanner specifically for the brain and intended to help in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer´s disease. This constitutes an important step in helping to treat the symptoms that appear in the early stages of the disease and to rule out the causes of dementia that may be reversible or treatable.
The use of PET imaging (Positron Emission Tomography) produces functional molecular images to study brain activity, and not just the anatomical image of the lesions. “The development of CareMiBrain, a PET scanner dedicated to the brain, represents a milestone in medical technology” –affirms Oncovision CEO Ignasi Vivas– “because it achieves up to 3 times better sensitivity compared to current whole-body PET systems, and it will be a great help in getting an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, is an irreversible progressive disorder. Approximately 36 million people suffer from the disease, which, at present, has no cure.
CareMiBrain is intended for Neurological Disorder Units and Molecular Imaging Departments at hospitals in Europe, Japan and the US, and it is currently the only PET scanner dedicated to the brain. The system will also be used in other clinical situations affecting the brain such as traumatic brain lesions, ischemia and tumors.
According to Juan Catret, Project Coordinator, CareMiBrain offers several advantages compared to PET systems for the whole body, such as “higher resolution, 3 times higher sensitivity, a competitive price (about 1/3 that of other systems) and a smaller size that will make installment easier in hospitals, all thanks to an innovative technology developed in close collaboration with the I3M Research Institute, headed by Professor Jose Maria Benlloch.
Furthermore, the radiotracer dose needed for this system is much lower than what is used for patients on the whole-body PET scanners. As Ignasi Vivas explains, “This translates into a health benefit for patients and a lower procedure cost, which will make it possible to perform the scans more frequently in order to assess the evolution of the disease and the efficiency of treatments.
This project is part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020, an 80 billion Euro program to finance research projects over a 7-year period, and assist companies in taking innovative projects from the lab to the marketplace.
CareMiBrain was awarded a 4.4 million Euro grant to carry out this project over a 3-year period beginning in April 2016 in collaboration with IBV, I3M and 5 prestigious medical centers including the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Tubingen University Hospital in Germany and Valencia General Hospital in Spain.
With regard to major innovations, the system will be the first brain PET scanner to use latest generation continuous crystal silicon detectors. Furthermore, as Catret adds, “the system will include revolutionary proprietary electronics and on-line reconstruction capabilities that will allow for viewing the images simultaneously with data acquisition. All of this makes for a software application with unprecedented resolution, sensitivity and efficiency.”
This project will have 3 phases: in the first phase a prototype will be constructed and regulatory approval obtained (CE and FDA); in the second phase the clinical validation will be carried out; the third phase will be to bring it to market.
With the development of CareMiBrain, Oncovision reaffirms its position as a leading player and innovator in the field of molecular imaging devices. Among its principle products are the Mammi dedicated breast PET–with technology that permits the early detection of very small, early stage tumors–and the portable gamma camera Sentinella, world leader in intraoperative gamma imaging, being used in 27 countries.