Skip to main content

Intersectoral collaboration for innovation in non-invasive techniques to estimate human brown adipose tissue activity

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ICI-THROUGH (Intersectoral collaboration for innovation in non-invasive techniques to estimate human brown adipose tissue activity)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-11-30

Recent scientific evidence suggests that brown adipose tissue plays a key role in metabolism which is a major global health concern. Therefore, being able to assess the activity of brown adipose tissue is crucial in the fight against metabolic pandemics such as obesity and its related disorders, and in various industries (e.g. foods, pharmaceuticals). However, the only technique available to measure the activity of this tissue is positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging of the glucosetracer 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose, a highly invasive technique that is harmful for human health, expensive, and requires extensive equipment and facilities. The development and validation of non-invasive and practical techniques to accurately estimate human brown adipose tissue activity requires the creation of new technology and the advancement of the current state of the art in human brown adipose tissue biology, thermoregulation, image analysis, and hardware/software design. Companies (particularly SMEs) do not have the technical capabilities or the facilities to conduct R&D activities at the level of excellence required for such development. Academic institutions have the capacity to conduct the R&D necessary to develop the concept into a market product, but they lack a viable supply chain and the expertise to develop the prototype post project and to exploit the product in the market.
Thus, measurement of an individual's BAT activity has enormous value for weight management and predisposition to cardio-metabolic disease. It is also critical for treating patients suffering from thyroid, metabolic, and thermoregulatory abnormalities and for its potential prevention and/or treatment of obesity and obesity-associated diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several cancers.
To solve this intersectoral problem, the ICI-THROUGH project worked on the creation of a sustainable innovation platform of intersectoral collaboration between two academic (University of Thessaly and University of Porto) and two industrial (Imedica SA and Center of Technology Research and Innovation Ltd.) European organizations to exchange knowledge on the development of non-invasive techniques to estimate human brown adipose tissue activity. This was achieved via a series of clear and measurable research and innovation objectives that was realized via staff exchanges of experienced (ER) and early-stage (ESR) researchers. All the research and innovation staff exchanges between the academic and the industrial participants incorporated built-in return mechanisms to maximise the impact of the action for knowledge sharing and long-term collaboration. The two academic and two industrial entities of the consortium were complementary with adequate technical and management abilities for the successful implementation of this project. The four ICI-THROUGH participants are experts in brown adipose tissue biology, medical imaging, human physiology and hardware/software development. Finally, they had participated in previous knowledge transfer programmes funded by the EU.
For the 2nd reporting period, the consortium partners had a successful cooperation and worked very well together as a result the action has achieved all of its objectives. The consortium developed an ICI-THROUGH prototype that will employ the optimum technique (i.e. HFTs or infrared thermography) to derive the activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT).
During the implementation of the ICI-THROUGH project, the consortium partners had a successful cooperation and worked very well together, as a result the project has achieved all of its objectives. Despite some minor delays due to personal reasons, all the researcher exchanges have been implemented successfully. Through these exchanges, the researchers participated in networking, research & training, workshops, innovation, dissemination and public engagement activities. The researchers learned new concepts and techniques and gained benefits such as new skills, personal development, career progress, exposure to different organizational cultures, opportunities to change direction, transfer of knowledge, and time for contemplation and re-evaluation of existing skills and abilities. The main achievements of the project were the development of an ICI-THROUGH prototype that will employ the optimum technique (i.e. HFTs or infrared thermography) to derive the activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT), the design of the project logo, the creation of the project website, the ICI-THROUGH newsletter, a manuscript for open access publication which is under review, and project video creations uploaded on you tube. Moreover, there were created popularization articles for magazines and newspapers, a project info graphic, and a project executive summary. Additionally, the participated researchers organized and conducted a summer school, innovation events and had the chance to attend conferences through which they shared knowledge. All achievements are described in the ICI-THROUGH project website found at www.ici-through.com which was continuously updated with all the project’s news and actions.
During the implementation of the ICI-THROUGH project, the consortium developed an ICI-THROUGH prototype that will employ the optimum technique (i.e. HFTs or infrared thermography) to derive the activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT). This will generate tangible outcomes that will benefit all project partners as well as the relevant stakeholders (business, academia, public). The benefits involved fall into the following three categories: a)Increase the economic output of European Union and create jobs by creating new niche markets and product lines, b) Increase the competitiveness of the European Union area by increasing its innovation capital at the research and business level, alike, and c) Increase the confidence of the public to the innovative potential of the European Union created when industry and academia join forces. This was achieved this by raising awareness of the results of the ICI-THROUGH project in the public, industrial, and academic communities.
Moreover, the ICI-THROUGH project contributed in enhancing research and innovation-related human resources, skills, and working conditions to realize the potential of individuals and to provide new career perspectives. It also developed new and lasting research collaborations, achieved transfer of knowledge between research institutions and improved research and innovation potential at the European and global levels.
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-008.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-002.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-005.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-001.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-003.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-004.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-007.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-010.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-009.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-006.png
photos-taken-during-the-implementation-of-the-secondments-v2-011.png