Philips R&D targets new and enhanced imaging technologies

September 13, 2007

Philips Medical Systems is seeking a path to personalized medicine using medical imaging to light the way.

Philips Medical Systems is seeking a path to personalized medicine using medical imaging to light the way.

From its home base R&D facility in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Philips is putting in place specialty infrastructures for imaging developments that will leverage 21st century biology, according to Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips research.

"This is new for us - a big step - to change from being box- and equipment-oriented to an organization that worries about molecular biology and disposables," he said.

Philips is seeking a broader footprint in healthcare, he told DI SCAN, by adjusting the focus of healthcare R&D from body organs to cellular and molecular processes. An example so far is Gemini TF (True Flight), Philips' PET/CT scanner that uses time-of-flight algorithms to improve PET resolution.

PET is the key modality for functional imaging, according to van Houten. But other imaging technologies will come into play as well. One could constitute a completely new modality.

Philips R&D is now building a preclinical prototype based on the concept of magnetic particle imaging. Data will be acquired through the use of tiny magnetic tracers that transmit signals when placed in an oscillating magnetic field.

"It is not MR," van Houten said. "It looks at the direct magnetic response of the particles."

Other technologies in various stages of development at Philips include optical mammography using fluorescent dyes that are being created in conjunction with Schering; quantitative MR for precisely measuring the flow of contrast agents, first in the liver and then elsewhere in the body; and physiologic modeling algorithms that automatically render and segment parts of the body seen in medical images.

Any or several of these efforts may be applied to pharmacokinetic modeling to study how contrast agents, for example, diffuse through the body and move from vasculature to tissue. Tumor activity maps could then be created that would be helpful when planning radiation therapy, van Houten said. A requisite of such mapping is the optimization of imaging systems and contrast agents so that patterns can be discerned and distinctions drawn between these agents and body tissues.

All of this leads back to Philips' newfound interest in biomolecular imaging and personalized medicine, he said, and the potential to tailor therapy to individual patients on the basis of molecular profiling.