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Posted: October 10, 2007
EUR 900 million for German molecular imaging research
(Nanowerk News) The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and partners from German industry have announced a €900 million (approx $1.25 billion) investment in molecular imaging research. The so-called 'Innovation Alliance Molecular Imaging' will provide funding for joint projects involving the research and industry sectors. The aim is to develop new contrast media, devices and software.
In the future, molecular imaging will help doctors to examine the human body more closely, diagnose diseases more quickly and improve treatment, said Annette Schavan, Germany's Research Minister. 'We want to dovetail research and industrial activities in molecular imaging,' she added. 'Our joint investment in this technology will greatly benefit people's health as well as Germany as a research and business location.'
The Federal Government has agreed to provide a total of €150 million funding for molecular imaging projects over the next six years. The industrial partners - Bayer-Schering pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim, Carl Zeiss, Karl Storz and Siemens - will add another €750 million to the pot.
Various molecular imaging projects are also currently underway under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme. For instance, the Institute for Biomedical Research of Barcelona and its American partner, the Centre for Molecular Imaging Research at Harvard Medical School, are involved in molecular imaging of atherosclerosis, commonly found in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
Molecular imaging can make biological processes at molecular or cell level visible. It promises early diagnosis and better treatment of a wide range of common diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases or dementia.
Unlike traditional imaging techniques, molecular imaging uses biomarkers to identify the goings-on in the cell. Those biomarkers (in the case of atherosclerosis, for instance, the enzyme Myeloperoxidase appears to be a reliable indicator of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques) interact chemically with their surroundings and in turn alter the image according to the molecular changes occurring within the area of interest. Such a detailed image at molecular level enables the detection of changes in the cell long before tumour growth has started or an infarct has occurred.