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Preparing for a better way to monitor inflammatory bowel disease

A fifth clinical site helps further the EU-funded EUPHORIA project’s research on non-invasive monitoring of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

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IBD, a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation in the intestines, is characterised by periods of active illness followed by periods of remission. Although there is currently no cure for IBD, proper treatment can help manage its symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. However, treatment failure rates can be relatively high, so doctors need to closely monitor inflammatory activity of the bowel throughout treatment. This is where the problem lies. To diagnose and monitor IBD, doctors need to use an invasive and uncomfortable method called endoscopy, where a long, thin tube with a camera is inserted into a patient’s body. This procedure’s unpleasant nature makes it difficult for both patients and healthcare providers, and patients tend to put it off, delaying necessary treatment.

A better alternative than current care

A more palatable alternative is multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT), a new diagnostic imaging method that makes it possible to monitor IBD simply, quickly and – most importantly – non-invasively. Combining lasers and ultrasound, the novel imaging process promises improved IBD diagnostic ability. MSOT works by emitting various frequencies of laser light through the skin to see how different tissues and inflammations respond to each light wavelength. The ultrasound and optoacoustic images generated make it possible to measure bowel inflammation. The EU-funded EUPHORIA project is conducting a study to assess the ability of MSOT to effectively measure disease activity in IBD patients. The international multicentre clinical study aims to validate the diagnostic performance of the MSOT Acuity Echo medical imaging system developed by EUPHORIA project coordinator iThera Medical, Germany. Up to now, there were four clinical sites already open: two in Germany (at the university hospitals in Erlangen and Jena) and two in Italy (at Humanitas Research Hospital and the Tor Vergata polyclinic). Now, a fifth site has been opened, once again in Italy, at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital (HSR).

More sites, better data

Opening more clinical sites allows for more patients to be recruited across different countries, helping the researchers obtain more data from diverse patient populations. This increases the reliability of the data obtained on the MSOT technology. Furthermore, as reported in a press release published on ‘CISION PRWeb’, iThera Medical aims to “use the feedback from the various patient and investigator groups to guide the ongoing development of the MSOT technology to best benefit doctors and their patients.” “We are very excited about the initiation of HSR, and we hope to strongly contribute to the ongoing clinical validation for the use of MSOT technology in the non-invasive assessment of IBD,” remarks Dr Mariangela Allocca of HSR in the same press release. Dr Allocca is a leading physician at HSR’s department of Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and EUPHORIA’s principal investigator at the Milan study site. The EUPHORIA (Enhancing Ultrasound and PHOtoacoustics for Recognition of Intestinal Abnormalities) study is a key step towards commercialising this novel imaging process. For more information, please see: EUPHORIA project website


EUPHORIA, bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, IBD, multispectral optoacoustic tomography, MSOT

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