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ClearPEMplus Report Summary

Project ID: 710405

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ClearPEMplus (Enhanced Silicon Photomultiplier-based detectors for high-resolution Positron Emission Mammography.)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The recent introduction of Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs) is a disruptive innovation that will allow a dramatic improvement of the performance of medical PET scanners and other gamma ray scanners. In order to implement all the advantages of SiPMs in a gamma ray detector, a highly integrated electronics is required. PETsys Electronics has designed and developed an innovative detector module based on the SiPM photodetector, scintillating crystals, and their novel highly integrated Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). The proprietary ASIC exploits to an extreme level the time resolution offered by SiPMs. This permits to use effectively Time-of-Flight (TOF) information to obtain very sharp and clean PET images. So far, PETsys Electronics has mainly concentrated on applications in whole body PET scanner and organ specific PET scanners. A high-resolution module with highly pixelated crystals is specifically designed for such applications. Our patented method allows obtaining the required Depth Of Interaction (DOI) information of gamma ray in the scintillator. In addition to nuclear medicine, there are many other areas where gamma rays need to be detected, and require very similar photodetectors and readout electronics to the ones used in PET. Examples are gamma cameras for security application such as scanning of containers, gamma detection in industrial processes and gamma detection for radiation monitoring purposes. The new detector under development will improve spatial resolution and time resolution, therefore reducing the radiation dose and duration required for the scans.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the Phase 1 feasibility assessment, PETsys accomplished a full analysis of the technical and business potential of the PET breast scanner, ClearPEM. As a result of the study, they assessed that to bring a whole scanner to the market would not be a viable business for their company strategy. The time to market and the company growth would benefit more from the sale of the single detector component to the scanner market manufacturer with already established market share and brand credibility in the medical industry. A detailed assessment of the market size, customer segments and main competitors was carried out. PETsys has identified the market segment for the detector module in the clinical and preclinical PET imaging and in the security market for cargo and vehicle scanning. Important partnerships with scanner manufacturers were started during these months. The interest of important representatives in each market segment was secured and will give the opportunity to prompt the market uptake of the detector module. Moreover, these months were beneficial to strengthen the contacts with customers interested in the new readout electronics. These perspective sales allowed estimating a positive revenue growth in the next 5 years that will boost the company growth. According to the results of the Phase 1 feasibility assessment, PETsys considers worthy to follow up with the implementation of the industrialisation and commercialisation of the PET detector module, and evaluated that the SME Instrument Phase 2 funding could provide the amount of funding and support to complete the validation of the second generation of the detector module successfully.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Replacing the traditional detector module with PETsys product will improve the performance of PET scanners, making them less expensive, and increasing the sensitivity and the spatial resolution. In practice, this means shorter scans, less radiation dose and better quality images. In nuclear medicine applications, this will enable an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of cancer and an increase of patient’s life expectancy. PETsys will use their unique expertise in integrated electronics and in gamma detectors to deliver the fastest readout electronic on the market. Thanks to the collaboration established with three end-users, the exact requirements for different types of PET scanners will be set. The detector modules will be tested by the potential customers to obtain an external validation of the performance and to have a favourable access to the market.

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