Annual Scientific Report 2019

EIBIR is proud to look back on another successful and productive year of engaging with its members and partners. This annual report summarises the activities of the EIBIR community, including on-going research projects, an update on our joint initiatives, as well as an outlook into the future. Enjoy the read and let yourself be inspired to become involved in EIBIR’s activities in the field of biomedical imaging research!

You can read the Annual Report for 2019 here.

An overview of all Annual Reports can be found here.

Free lecture by Prof. Josef Penninger on potential COVID-19 treatment

Addressing the ongoing developments and challenges for public health related to the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the European Society of Radiology (ESR) will be hosting a top-class online event on the disease on March 12, featuring Prof. Josef Penninger, a world-leading geneticist and immunologist.

Despite the postponement of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) 2020, the ESR remains fully committed to supporting the fight against COVID-19 through science and research. For this reason, the session on COVID-19 will be made available to all, streamed live and free-of-charge from the ESR studio in Vienna on Thursday, March 12 at 17:00 CET.

The event will feature the lecture, “ACE2 – a rational frontline therapy for COVID-19” given by Austrian scientist Prof. Josef Penninger, one of the world’s leading geneticists and molecular immunologists. He will aim to shed light on the discovery and function of ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) and will also cover the relationship between ACE2 and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), a hormone system responsible for systemic vascular resistance and for regulating blood pressure and fluid-electrolyte balance in instances of lung injury. He will highlight the predisposition of ACE2 as a SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 receptor and therefore as a potential treatment approach.

A recipient of numerous prestigious prizes, Penninger established the Viennese Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, and is the current Director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The main focus of his work has been autoimmune, bone, heart and lung diseases, and cancers. APEIRON Biologics AG, a company Penninger founded, is currently tackling the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in China and started a pilot clinical trial for their newly developed drug that is supposed to decrease mortality in those affected by the virus.
The session at the ESR Studio will be hosted by Austrian radiologist, Prof. Christian Loewe and will include the opportunity for viewers to ask live questions. For further details about the session, click here.

The decision to make this event publicly available is in keeping with the ESR’s continued commitment to bringing the latest scientific developments to its members and the public. During these challenging times, not only for the ESR and ECR but also for the world over, the society wishes to help in any way it can to fight the coronavirus outbreak, and its commitment to science and public health remains its No.1 priority.

The online event will be streamed live via ESR Connect. You can register for the event now by clicking here.

EIBIR at ECR2020 – Learn how to succeed in the European funding landscape

Visit the EIBIR Lounge at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) 2020 to talk to us about funding opportunities for imaging research, and see demonstrators and prototypes of projects we support.

Or attend the EIBIR session to enjoy a complimentary coffee while having the opportunity to ask the experts about artificial intelligence in medical imaging and the future of research funding in Europe.

AI and the future of imaging: European funding prospects
Friday, March 13, 12:45-13:45, room 4

– Introduction (G. Krestin, Erasmus MC)
– The importance of AI in imaging research (W. Niessen, Erasmus MC)
– Deep learning in imaging and cancer care (G. Langs, Medical University Vienna)
– Applying AI for biomarker discovery (A. Alberich-Bayarri, QUIBIM)
– European funding and support services for AI and imaging research (P. Zolda, EIBIR)

The GLINT project successfully concludes

The GlucoCEST Imaging in Neoplastic Tumours (GLINT) project will successfully conclude in December 2019. This ambitious project focused on developing a new, non-invasive MRI method using native D-glucose and 3-O-methyl-Dglucose (3OMG) as non-radioactive tracers to assess cancer glucose uptake and metabolism.

Over the past four years, GLINT has compiled crucial new knowledge about the glucoCEST technique. Among others, the project partners improved the analytical equations of CEST quantification, which allow more accurate exchange rate determination of the glucoCEST signal. A new data acquisition technique called snapshot-CEST was developed for fast and robust volumetric CEST imaging and a complete post-processing software suite for analysis of general CEST experiments was developed by one of the non-academic partners and will be available soon to the whole MRI community. The GLINT consortium evaluated the glucoCEST technique in terms of repeatability and reproducibility in a multicentre study, which demonstrated that the method was robust enough to detect the small signal changes expected in vivo at clinical field strengths. Furthermore, the project partners showed that it was possible to detect a positive glucoCEST signal in glioma patients, while detection of such a signal in solid tumours remains elusive at this stage.

Other deliverables of the project included a radiometric approach for accurate estimation of pH change and, using CEST-pH imaging, the partners were able to detect in vivo changes in tumour acidosis. Moreover, research on glucose analogues demonstrated the ability to image tumours by many new possible contrast agents, from 3OMG and other non-metabolizable glucose analogues, to glucosamine (GlcN) or N-acetyl-glucosamine (GlcNAc) CEST MRI in animal models. Generally, images produced using these analogues at high field strength corresponded well to FDG-PET.

GLINT has significantly contributed to the development of novel CEST-based procedures for cancer imaging. The project partners intend to continue their research and exploit GLINT’s results to bring the use of either native glucose or glucose analogues to the clinics.

More information about the project and its results can be found at www.glint-project.eu.

Start your future now with the ESR Research Seed Grant

Together with EIBIR, the European Society of Radiology (ESR) has launched a new seed funding programme for innovative one-year projects and pilot studies on AI or cardiac imaging.

The purpose of the programme is to stimulate and provide finding for ambitious projects that will subsequently lead to larger studies and further funding applications. Seed grants may amount to € 4,000 – € 8,000 for a period of 12 months. Up to 10 projects will be funded in 2020. The recipients will be announced at ECR 2020.

Find out all about how to apply for the ESR Research seed grant here.

Application Deadline: January 15, 2020

Public-Private Partnership under Horizon Europe

Healthcare in Europe is at a crossroads. It faces increasing challenges on a number of fronts; at the same time, technological and scientific advances offer new opportunities to solve these challenges. Bridging the gap to address today’s health and translational challenges will require a multi-sector Public-Private Partnership.

Five industry associations representing pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technologies industries operating in Europe (COCIR, EFPIA, MedTech Europe, EuropaBio and Vaccines Europe) have come together to work on a Strategic Agenda for Innovation in Healthcare. This Agenda falls in the framework of the proposed European Health Innovation Public-Private Partnership under Horizon Europe. Its objective is to guide future public-private research & innovation that would contribute – alongside other European research funding instruments – to addressing some key European healthcare challenges in an integrated manner.

Today, the private sector is interested to invest in a new health Public-Private Partnership and would like invite citizens, patients, health and research communities, national authorities, academia and scientific societies to provide their input to make sure that this Strategic Agenda aligns with the needs of European health and research communities.

You have an opportunity to learn more about the proposed partnership and ask questions during a dedicated webinar on 4 November 14.00 CET – register here!

You can contribute to this consultation by filling in the online questionnaire until 24 November midnight.

EIBIR welcomes the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership within the next European Commission’s research framework programme Horizon Europe, as it will warrant the integration between industry and academia, provide funding opportunities that are necessary to address current challenges in health care research and help to maintain Europe at the forefront of medical innovation. It provides a unique opportunity to position biomedical imaging more prominently for years to come.

A full statement of support from EIBIR can be found here.

Innovative Medicines Initiative publishes topics currently being considered for IMI2 – Call 20

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has published a full list of topics currently being considered for inclusion in IMI2 – Call 20. IMI’s next call for proposals is set to feature topics on cancer, tuberculosis, psoriasis, drugs based on proteins, and vaccines. The topics are:

Topic 1: Early diagnosis, prediction of radiographic outcomes and development of rational, personalised treatment strategies to improve long-term outcomes in psoriatic arthritis
Topic 2: Innovations to accelerate vaccine development and manufacture
Topic 3: Real-world clinical implementation of liquid biopsy
Topic 4: Tumour plasticity
Topic 5: Proton versus photon therapy for oesophageal cancer
Topic 6: Handling of protein drug products and stability concerns
Topic 7: Academia and industry united innovation and treatment for tuberculosis

The draft topic texts have been published online on the Future Topics page of the IMI website. Although the texts are indicative and could change in the coming weeks, the information will allow potential applicants to start building a consortium and putting together a proposal. Topics 1, 4 and 7 explicitly mention biomedical imaging in the call texts and are of particular interest for research active in biomedical imaging.

More information is available on the Innovative Medicines Initiative website:

Upcoming funding opportunities: https://www.imi.europa.eu/news-events/newsroom/find-out-about-imis-future-funding-opportunities

Future Topics: https://www.imi.europa.eu/apply-funding/future-topics

 

AlternativesToGd project kicks-off at EIBIR offices

On October 10-11, 2019, the AlternativesToGd consortium met for a kick-off meeting at the EIBIR office in Vienna following the official project start on October 1st.

The AlternativesToGD project will develop on a new type of contrast agent for imaging using MRI and involves 10 partners, including EIBIR. The project will run for 36 months, and is scheduled to conclude in September 2022.

Project description:

Recently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommended suspension and warning labels for the use of contrast agents (CAs) that are Gadolinium (Gd)-bearing CAs (GBCA) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These decisions, although in the absence of any clinical evidence, relate to potential major health concerns resulting from long-term accumulation of Gd containing species in the patients’ bodies. This sends a clear message to carefully consider the necessity of each contrast injection in individuals undergoing an MRI scan. However, for a number of diagnostic procedures such as tumour characterisation, the use of a CA is often essential. The accumulation of Gd in different organs (including the brain) and GBCAs related diseases requires the scientific community to seek radically new alternatives. The AlternativesToGd vision is to identify and validate radically new compounds and technologies as alternatives to GBCAs. Investigated compounds and technologies will be tested in animal models of disease and the most promising ones identified for further clinical development. If successful, the envisaged outcome will radically impact the field, likely leading to a paradigm shift in MR based diagnosis thus being highly beneficial to society. The AlternativesToGd consortium will develop a new class of MRI CAs that will be metal-free, safe, and completely washed out by the human system after injection. The agents consist of small endogenous molecules, which will be hyperpolarised to ensure high sensitivities even at very low doses. A major challenge and risk arises from the rapid decay of the hyperpolarised (HP) state. As enabling technologies, AlternativesToGd focuses on three leading and innovative hyperpolarisation techniques and on unique agents showing HP state lifetimes sufficiently long to enable diagnostic contrast-enhanced MRI approaches with so far unmet sensitivity.

Attendees:

Prof. Rachel Katz-Brull  –  Hadassah Medical Organization
Prof. Silvio Aime  –  University of Torino
Dr. Francesca Reinieri  –  University of Torino
Prof. Jan Henrik Ardenkjaer-Larsen  –  Denmark Technical University
Prof. Volker Rasche  –  Universität Ulm
Prof. Damien Tyler  –  University of Oxford (remote)
Dr. Julien Rivoire  –  RS2D
Dr. Ingo Lieberwirth  –  Max-Planck Gesellschaft Mainz
Prof. Kevin Brindle  –  University of Cambridge
Prof. Angelo Bifone  –  Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (remote)
Dr. Pamela Zolda  –  EIBIR
Peter Gordebeke  –  EIBIR

AlternativesToGD proposal invited to grant negotiations

We’re happy to announce that the AlternativesToGD proposal has been invited to grant negotiations by the European Commission.

The AlternativesToGD consortium will develop on a new type of contrast agent for imaging using MRI.

The consortium consists of 10 partners, including EIBIR, and the project will run for 36 months, and is expected to start in the fall of 2019.

Project description:

Recently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommended suspension and warning labels for the use of contrast agents (CAs) that are Gadolinium (Gd)-bearing CAs (GBCA) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These decisions, although in the absence of any clinical evidence, relate to potential major health concerns resulting from long-term accumulation of Gd containing species in the patients’ bodies. This sends a clear message to carefully consider the necessity of each contrast injection in individuals undergoing an MRI scan. However, for a number of diagnostic procedures such as tumour characterisation, the use of a CA is often essential. The accumulation of Gd in different organs (including the brain) and GBCAs related diseases requires the scientific community to seek radically new alternatives. The AlternativesToGd vision is to identify and validate radically new compounds and technologies as alternatives to GBCAs. Investigated compounds and technologies will be tested in animal models of disease and the most promising ones identified for further clinical development. If successful, the envisaged outcome will radically impact the field, likely leading to a paradigm shift in MR based diagnosis thus being highly beneficial to society. The AlternativesToGd consortium will develop a new class of MRI CAs that will be metal-free, safe, and completely washed out by the human system after injection. The agents consist of small endogenous molecules, which will be hyperpolarised to ensure high sensitivities even at very low doses. A major challenge and risk arises from the rapid decay of the hyperpolarised (HP) state. As enabling technologies, AlternativesToGd focuses on three leading and innovative hyperpolarisation techniques and on unique agents showing HP state lifetimes sufficiently long to enable diagnostic contrast-enhanced MRI approaches with so far unmet sensitivity.

Project consortium:

Hadassah Medical Organisation, IL

University of Torino, IT

Technical University of Denmark, DK

University Ulm, DE

University of Oxford, UK

RS2D, FR

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, DE

University of Cambridge, UK

EIBIR, AT

Italian Institute of Technology, IT

EIBIR looks back at a successful European Congress of Radiology 2019

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR) 2019 concluded on March 3, 2019 with a new attendance record. More than 30,000 delegates visited the biggest and most innovative congress for radiology in Europe.

Participating for the 14th time, EIBIR invited congress delegates to learn more about EU-funding and project management support while enjoying a cup of coffee in the EIBIR Lounge area.

Two important highlights for EIBIR were its Coffee & Talk session and Networking event. On February 28, Prof. Gabriel Krestin, EIBIR’s scientific director, hosted a Coffee & Talk session dedicated to EU-funded research and funding opportunities. Key considerations were presented and led to a vibrant and productive discussion.

EIBIR is honoured and privileged to contribute to scientific progress by helping researchers in the field of biomedical imaging secure funding for their ideas. EIBIR’s support does not stop there, however: EIBIR also offers project management support, and implements the successful communication and dissemination of research results.

During the Networking event on March 2, project partners and members of the EIBIR Scientific Advisory Board and Joint Initiatives gathered in the EIBIR Lounge to discuss biomedical imaging research in Europe. In addition, demonstrators from the EU-funded research projects LUCA, SOLUS, HYPMED and CoSTREAM – all receiving EIBIR support – were on display in the EIBIR Lounge to inspire researchers to reach for their own dream projects!

We can think of no better endorsement for EIBIR’s work that the comments of one attendee at the Networking event: “These support services are a dream come true for researchers and scientists!“