Introduction

Focus

Institute QuantiVision (iQ) will develop medical (imaging) devices and protocols for quantitative analysis of medical images to guide therapy and facilitate therapeutic interventions, with a focus on oncology and neurology. One of the main priorities will be to develop sophisticated data reduction and feature extraction methods, so that healthcare professionals can make optimal use of all available data without suffering from data overflow.

 

Background

At present, a major factor hampering transfer of fundamental scientific knowledge into clinical applications is the enormous inter-individual variability between patients. This variability manifests itself through different rates and types of progression of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, diseases that become more and more prevalent in an ageing population. Institute QuantiVision foresees that future healthcare will be characterized by a personalized or tailored approach, where treatment regimens will be selected on basis of disease characteristics and genetic make up of individual patient, and where these characteristics will be actively monitored during treatment. These developments are also driven not only by improvement in health care itself, but also by the need for cost-effectiveness. With accurate patient selection, treatment efficacy will improve and expensive therapies will be reserved for those subgroups of patients that will actually benefit.

To implement tailored treatment algorithms in future health care, major technological innovations in diagnostic tools are needed, in particular using different in vivo imaging modalities. In vivo imaging plays an important role at all stages of the health care cycle: screening, staging, treatment selection and response monitoring. The key technology for tailored patient treatment is multidimensional quantitative imaging, combining longitudinal information from multiple modalities at a macroscopic and microscopic level. At present, infrastructure and methods, other than visual inspection, are lacking. Given the enormous data flow generated by medical imaging modalities, however, they are urgently needed to enable extraction of the specification information needed to treat an individual patient optimally.

 

Need for research and development

Traditionally, clinical research focuses on subjective evaluation of the physiological meaning of the shades of gray constituting an image. Quantitative analysis of combined multi modal images provides a more objective basis for clinical decision-making. Currently, there is a lack of tools for quantification and integration of these data. iQ will study physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying changes in the contrast of images and develop clinically validated tools and protocols to allow for quantification on a routine basis. Optical methods, based on natural and exogenous (e.g. fluorescence) contrast, can be implemented to guide therapy and set diagnosis by in vivo optical biopsies. State-of-the-art mathematical modeling is required to create images of (moving) tissue that can easily be interpreted by health care professionals. A major challenge is the integration of microscopic and macroscopic imaging techniques.

 

Aims and objectives

Starting from clinical questions, iQ will develop optical imaging devices, software and protocols to enhance efficiency, efficacy and economy of healthcare in the Netherlands, focusing on oncology and neurology. In particular, iQ aims at quantitative analysis and integration of images at a microscopic and macroscopic scale. Healthcare improvements will be made by enabling individualized and therefore optimized treatment. This will be achieved by quantitative analysis of multidimensional images, resulting in increased diagnostic sensitivity, improved monitoring of disease, improved monitoring of response to therapy and optimized therapy through image guided interventions. Devices, software and protocols developed within iQ will validated in clinical studies and will be disseminated both nationally and internationally in collaboration with industry.

 

Economic impact

iQ’s approach leads to increased efficiency in healthcare, improved diagnosis, new therapies, shorter treatment times for patients and practical solutions that will be adopted by industry and implemented in healthcare more quickly. Successful business developments and valorization are essential to iQ. As iQ focuses on translational research, clinically validated algorithms resulting from iQ will be of high healthcare and economical value. The work of the consortium will optimize quality and exchangeability of imaging equipment, which improves scientific accuracy and significance of findings obtained with this equipment. One of the main benefits of iQ will be that only those patients who will actually benefit will be selected for an (expensive) treatment, whilst non-responders can be offered alternative therapies without delay and without first suffering unnecessary toxicity as a result of ineffective therapy. Benefits will not only be experienced by healthcare professionals and their patients, but will also support the long-term (inter)national competitiveness of Dutch Industry and Science.

 

Ambition

iQ aims to revolutionize the future of clinical practice, by enabling better, faster, and more affordable diagnosis and monitoring of patients. iQ developments will focus on clinical usefulness. As developments will be based on clinical needs, progress will be driven by a “clinical pull” rather than a “research push”, making sure that result of iQ are relevant for daily clinical practice. In ten years, iQ will have reached almost 75 milestones and deliveries in the area of image processing software, diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, multi-purpose catheters, detection of neoplastic tissue, and (laser) microscopy.