Innovation may have slowed in the medical imaging market, but there are several interesting developments in emerging technologies.
Future technologies will enable patients to have access to the ultimate point-of-care devices—devices that they operate when and where they want. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, Qualcomm announced a US$10 million competition for the development of a device similar to the Tricorder in Star Trek. The hand-held scanner is used on the show to diagnose medical conditions. The prize will be awarded to the person who develops a device that can diagnose 15 “common and important diseases” without the input of a health professional.
“While current devices have been designed for such purposes as detecting explosives or other chemicals obscured beneath cloth, paper or ceramics, increases in waveform acquisition speed and other performance developments could soon pave the way for biomedical testing and clinical trials,” says Eugene Arthurs, CEO, SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics).
A push for devices that place patients at the centre of care will result in similar developments in telemedicine.
“Personalised medicine with therapies designed for the individual patient and monitored by real-time imaging adjusted within minutes or hours rather than days or weeks will drive development of a new set of devices and instruments. Some of these will need to be simple enough for patients and their families to monitor, and will be supported through teleconsulting,” says Arthurs.
Other emerging technologies include Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI), which recently was introduced on the market.
“MPI has the potential to generate quantitative functional data as well as anatomical images,” says Eramangalath Sujith, Programme Manager, Europe, Israel and Africa Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan. “MPI is similar to PET, has the speed of X-ray and is one hundred times more sensitive than MRI, but is not quite as sensitive as PET. This technology uses the detection of systemically delivered magnetic iron oxide.”
In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) could become more common in clinical settings. Currently, the method is used mostly in research applications because it doesn’t provide specific numerical measurements, only images of the brain. Oxford University researchers introduced a new approach to fMRI in the March 2012 issue of the journal NeuroImage (www.journals.elsevier.com/neuroimage). The method provides real measurements comparable to those produced by oxygen-15 positron emission tomography.