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EMIR - the European Network on Nuclear Medicine


Specific Objectives:
1. Intensify the network's activities and activate those task groups and specific activities/projects that have yet to begin;
2. Extend the partnerships if needed, depending on the specific tasks defined. Further contacts with DGs, e.g. SANCO, ENV;
3. Analyse and report on the survey on medical radio-isotope utilisation and availability in Europe, in order to specify current needs and forecast future ones. The results will help in defining EU strategy on radio-isotope production facilities (nuclear research reactors, cyclotrons) for routine and research, and in understanding reasons for non-availability of some isotopes in some EU countries and allow to correct these inequalities. In as much as feasible, this will be extended to the candidate countries;
4. Attraction of grantholders for mutual training and education within EMIR;
5. Contribution to ERA (specifically in the area of nuclear technologies for health).
Planned Deliverables Extension of the network with more partners from within the EU and candidate countries.
Summary of the Action:
The European Network (EMIR) is now well established with almost 30 partners. EMIR promotes the development and availability to all EU citizens of high quality and safe medical applications of nuclear technologies and methodologies, as used for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of major diseases. EMIR is an efficient way to tackle these issues, as exemplified by the joint ESTRO/EMIR activity on genetic pathways (project: GENEPI), which was successful in obtaining funding from RTD in 2001. For the next year, EMIR will extend the Network, address the request from DG INFSO to survey the needs of informatics in medicine, analyse the survey on the availability of radioisotopes in medicine, prepare joint statements or similar to react to incorrect information in the press on radiation and isotopes, begin preparations for the 5th International Conference on Isotopes in Amsterdam 2004, further develop the objectives of the task groups within EMIR. Rationale Nuclear medicine and radiotherapy are important for the health, health care and quality of life of EU citizens, and also involve socio-economic and industrial (pharmaceutical and medical equipment) aspects. Indeed, they play major roles in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of some of the most frequent diseases, like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Every year in Europe, over 12 million patients benefit from a nuclear medicine procedure, 90% of which are diagnostic and 10% therapeutic. Radiotherapy is one of the effective treatments of cancer: it is used in 50% of the cases and cures 40% of the cancer patients cured today. The applications are expected to further expand, with developments in new radioisotopes, nuclear technologies and biotechnologies.

The radiopharmaceutical market, currently growing by 5-6 % per year, has the potential, with new developments, to grow faster. However, many problems hamper new developments and also the availability and proper/safe use of existing techniques, which differ across Europe. Some of the problems are specific to the EU and are largely due to lack of co-ordination and harmonisation both for scientific and science-based regulatory aspects. Just one of many examples is the unavailability or unreliable supply of a broad variety of new radioisotopes for medical research and clinical trials. These problems may result in Europe losing the leadership that it has in some areas. A European network is an efficient way to tackle many of these problems and coordinate and accelerate developments. It should involve all the necessary actors. The main European stakeholders and end-user organisations are already actively contributing: EANM and ESTRO, representing clinicians and researchers, and ARPES, representing industry. Other entities, like individual companies, academic and nuclear research institutes are also participating. Nuclear medicine and radiotherapy are based on the use of radioisotopes and external radiation beams, and therefore largely rely on nuclear technologies and methodologies. JRC, (institutes IE, IHCP, IRMM, ITU) has specific and sometimes unique competencies and facilities in many of the involved fields. This, coupled with its independence and experience, makes it a natural operating agent for such a network. By tackling some of the problems limiting nuclear medicine and radiotherapy development and availability, this network helps to improve health and quality of life of EU citizens, optimises socio-economic costs and increases the development and competitiveness of industry. It further fits well in the concept of the European Research Area.

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