What aids progress in molecular imaging technology?
Ahead of the inaugural MediSens clinical imaging technology conference in London (12-14 December), we interview our guest speakers, industry professionals with profound experience of the technologies deployed in medical imaging.
Dr Antonis Kalemis, Vice President of the Association of Imaging Producers & Equipment Suppliers (AIPES), received his PhD from the Institute of Cancer Research, and has worked in the sector as a researcher for both Philips Healthcare and GE Healthcare.
His session, “An overview of research and development into molecular imaging” will take place on 13th December.
Sensor fusion, i.e. multi-modal imaging, is vital in many new non-medical imaging applications – is the clinical sector falling behind?
The clinical sector is by its nature (highly-regulated, evidence-based reimbursement to name a few) very conservative. Therefore, for a technology to finds its way into the clinic, it requires several years of maturation, investigational studies that demonstrate superiority vs the existing gold standard.
Once these are achieved, it is not certain that it will be successful since it will then require evidence of improved performance compared to its additional cost in order to be adequately reimbursed. Even after that step it will require appropriate adoption by the referring physicians who will send patients for scanning.
All these steps require time and on top of this, for molecular imaging in particular, the system itself is not enough. It requires also the radiopharmaceutical entity which itself has an even longer cycle from investigation to full adoption.
Given these traits, we have still seen big jumps the last 5-7 years – particularly in the detectors space. For example, single / dual energy CT, spectral CT, photon counting mammographic devices, multi-transmit/receive MRI systems, and solid-state SPECT as well as PET devices.
Tim Berners-Lee or Stephen Hawking?
For me Stephen Hawkins but with the company of Werner Heisenberg and Albert Einstein.
How can imaging device researchers accelerate the clinical use of PET scanners?
They cannot in my opinion. The market is driven by radiopharmaceutical breakthrough, regulatory approved entities that demonstrate good cost-value ratios. Particularly in this economic climate the biggest sales volume of equipment are from the value segment where novel detectors are not the important thing as demonstrated level of image quality, proven durability and low cost.
Judo or Ju-jitsu?
Having practised both (particularly judo for many years) it depends on what you are looking for and your sensei. I would prefer good traditional Japanese style Judo vs Ju-jutsu but Ju-jutsu vs modern competitive Judo.
Traditional judo is essentially the ability to use your opponent’s force/momentum to bring him/her down and lock him into submission. Unfortunately, in recent years there was significant focus on competitions (such as Olympics) and traditional style judo, in my opinion contaminated by greek-roman wrestling style, sambo style. Opponents have a couple of favourites techniques and rely much more on physical strength rather than clever use of the opponent’s body to win. Unfortunately, I have not practiced judo or several years now but once a judoka always a judoka 🙂
Which country has the most compelling clinical technology ecosystem and why?
If you consider EU (with UK) as a single country then EU. Otherwise, USA. Ability to collaborate, funding research, sheer number of researchers, SMEs and big companies – in my opinion there is an interesting mix of inquisitiveness and social policies.
For molecular imaging, there are much more avant-garde applications than what exists in the US but admittedly the US is catching up on this and it has its own advantages such as a homogeneous market of 350m people with easier access from a regulatory standpoint.
It is difficult to draw a line. US-EU the last years worked very well as a push-pull couple and in a world that seems preoccupied to break international ties I think this relationship has to continue for the benefit of healthcare.
What is your favourite work of art?
I am afraid I don’t have one! I like art in general and the more general use of the term but I cannot commit to one single piece.
Are there technologies or business models outside medicine that influence healthcare technology?
The big hype these days is everything about “big data”. So yes, improvements in computer science can be a catalyst for better image reconstruction, image analysis and decision making.
The main reason of Nuclear Medicine’s existence was from all the advancements that stemmed from military projects during WWII, so several advancements in defence industry, as well as more generic sensors/optics industries, could be incorporated easily in medical imaging.
Further to that, developments in astrophysics and astronomy have also historically contributed to better algorithms and/or detectors for medical imaging so yes there are a lot of synergies still in these adjacent sectors that can positively influence medical imaging.
Finally, what are you hoping to gain from participation in the MediSens conference?
An interesting interaction with similar minded experts from different fields.
Find out more
Built by medical practitioners and the world’s foremost digital imaging experts, this conference addresses the need for a more integrated approach to developing medical imaging systems for clinical use. Topics discussed will cover a range of sensor technologies including CCD, CMOS and fibre-based systems from macro to micro, connected by photonics technologies and the requirement for high quality, reliable imaging.
By bringing together medical professionals and the imaging technology supply chain, the audience can gain a better understanding of the challenges and capabilities of today’s advanced medical imagers.