“Memorandum of Understanding” has been signed in Erlangen
Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA) with headquarters in Paris and Siemens Medical Solutions (Med) located in Erlangen plan to expand and intensify their joint research activities in the area of innovative imaging and therapy. Both organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and the first projects will start in the fall of 2005. The objective is to further develop existing technologies, such as magnetic resonance, molecular imaging, and computed tomography. At the same time, both companies are involved in efforts that will provide them with even earlier diagnostic and therapy possibilities through added research in molecular medicine.
The memorandum includes different core areas that will be defined further into projects in the coming months:
· In the area of ultra high-field magnetic resonance tomography (MRT), the development of 11.7 tesla systems for human applications as well as 17 tesla systems for small animal research should lead to breakthroughs in the areas of diagnosis and therapy for neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The small structures of nerve paths as well as functional MRT (analysis of brain activities) require a level of resolution only offered by highfield systems. At present, the upper limit for human applications is 7 tesla.
· In the area of molecular imaging, Siemens and CEA will collaborate on the further development of radiopharmaceuticals (biomarkers) to improve the diagnosis of different diseases, in particular, cancer. Substances concentrate especially in high metabolically active tissue such as tumors and metastases and can be accurately located with PET or SPECT systems. This allows the accurate detection of, for example, cancer foci as well as the effectiveness of therapy, and successful follow-up. Additional developments of these markers as well as respective imaging systems will help detect these pathologies even earlier than today. This increases the chances for a cure and facilitates optimum patient care.
· Optical biomarkers can begin to fluoresce once they impinge on the target molecules - such as cancer cells or disease-specific proteins. Tumors and metastases start to illuminate slightly. Currently, these types of tracers are pure research projects. In addition, only disease locations close to the skin surface can be detected presently. CEA is currently involved in developing and improving optical tomographs for detection of such lesions. Together with Siemens, this project is to be moved forward and the commercial potential investigated accordingly.
· A joint further development of the respective biochip activities of Siemens and CEA has been planned as well: the so-called lab-on-a-chip, which is not larger than a credit card, will be used shortly in medical research as well as in clinical routine (hospital, physician’s practice) to accurately analyze body fluids, such as blood or saliva. Viruses, bacteria or genetic diseases can be detected within a few minutes. Today, analysis frequently requires large labs and days as well as costs that match this effort. The biochip system “Quicklab“ by Siemens was recently awarded the future prize of the German Federal President.
In the future, extensive databases will determine the risk of certain gene combinations in creating specific diseases (predisposition) by, e.g. taking the genetic information of cancer patients and examining it for correlation. This knowledge will allow patients to be provided with preventive measures tailored to their personal profile.
· Both partners have been cooperating for some time in the field of computed tomography. R&D will accelerate the development of new detector technologies which will be used in three different modalities, CT systems as well as SPECT and PET systems.
· Both partners also want to bundle their efforts in the development of particle therapy systems. This therapy using heavy ions and protons is considered the most advanced and the most promising in the battle against cancer, since it works in a far more targeted and detailed manner than conventional methods. It allows for effectively destroying tumors that are difficult to access without damaging surrounding tissue.
Within the scope of the memorandum, the partners also have the possibility of exchanging technical personnel or of combining them in planned projects.
Partnership as innovation factor
“It is our objective to increase the quality of medical care and to simultaneously reduce costs. Technological innovations are an important key in this undertaking,“ explained Prof. Dr. Erich R. Reinhardt, member of the Board of Siemens AG and Chairman of the Board of Siemens Medical Solutions. “Partnerships with leading research institutes all over the world allow for a stimulating and creative atmosphere as well as for a comprehensive exchange of know-how. Both are a must for innovations in the medical field and extend far beyond this objective.“
“Siemens is the ideal partner for us to transfer our comprehensive know-how and long-term experience in the area of medical imaging, diagnostics and therapy from research to clinical routine," adds Alain Bugat, Administrateur Général of CEA. “There is no doubt in my mind that as a team we are able to move medicine a giant step forward.“
The CEA is the French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique). It is a public body established in October 1945 by General de Gaulle. A leader in research, development and innovation, the CEA mission statement has two main objectives: To become the leading technological research organization in Europe and to ensure that the nuclear deterrent remains effective in the future. The CEA is active in three main fields: Energy, information and health technologies, and defense and national security. In each of these fields, the CEA maintains a cross-disciplinary culture of engineers and researchers, building on the synergies between fundamental and technological research. In 2004, the total CEA workforce consisted of 14.910 employees. Web: http://www.cea.fr
Siemens Medical Solutions (Med)
Siemens Medical Solutions is one of the largest suppliers to the healthcare industry in the world. The company is known for bringing together innovative medical technologies, healthcare information systems, management consulting, and support services, to help customers achieve tangible, sustainable, clinical and financial outcomes. From imaging systems for diagnosis, to therapy equipment for treatment, to patient monitors to hearing instruments and beyond, Siemens innovations contribute to the health and well-being of people across the globe, while improving operational efficiencies and optimizing workflow in hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, and doctors' offices. Employing approximately 31.000 people worldwide and operating in more than 120 countries, Siemens Medical Solutions reported sales of 7.07 billion EUR, orders of 8.12 billion EUR and group profit of 1.05 billion EUR for fiscal 2004.