Gamma Medica-Ideas, Inc. ("GMI"), a leading developer of digital molecular imaging systems, announced today that it has been awarded an Innovation Award for its new prototype imaging system that combines the molecular imaging (MI) capability of single-photon nuclear imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The award was presented to GMI at the 2009 World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in Munich, Germany that took place on September 7th, 2009. The innovation award was one of three awards given during the plenary awards ceremony. The World Congress on Medical Physics is the world's largest medical physics convention, which attracted more than 3,000 attendees and featured over 2,800 scientific presentations. GMI's award was selected from over 100 competing papers nominated for the award.
Dr. Dirk Meier, Senior Scientist from Gamma Medica-Ideas accepted the Innovation Award on behalf of GMI. According to Dr. Meier, "The new dual modality SPECT/MRI system which GMI has pioneered creates an entirely new enabling imaging modality that fuses the high resolution anatomical abilities of MRI imaging with the physiological imaging capability of SPECT in one instrument. This was not possible previously because the glass-encased vacuum tubes used in conventional SPECT detectors are not capable of operating in magnetic fields." Dr. Douglas Wagenaar, Gamma Medica-Ideas Director of Research added, "This breakthrough could significantly impact the future of medical imaging across many fields. An example where it could make an impact is in the diagnosis of vulnerable plaque. Vulnerable plaque is a thrombogenic plaque that is distinct from the arterial wall calcification that most people associate with heart attacks, and is in fact implicated now in 70% of cardiovascular events. Vulnerable plaque spontaneously ruptures leading to acute and often fatal results. With a dual SPECT-MRI system one could simultaneously use the MRI to visualize the swelling and inflammation associated with the build up of the plaque and the SPECT to identify and localize specific molecular processes underlying the disease such as metabolism, endothelial cell activation, and apoptosis where the cells are 'behaving' differently than normal."
Parts of GMI's development were funded by the NIH's Biomedical Imaging Institute (NIBIB) in the USA, and others by the Research Council of Norway. The research team includes experts from several key institutions in the United States, notably: Dr. Orhan Nalcioglu (University of California, Irvine), who specializes in the physics of MRI systems, and Dr. Benjamin M.W. Tsui (Johns Hopkins University Medical Center), who specializes in the development of novel image reconstruction techniques.
Gamma Medica-Ideas is currently targeting the pre-clinical market for introduction of its first product employing the new technology. The company believes that the pre-clinical setting is a perfect environment to challenge new imaging systems to develop optimized performance and to prove out new technologies before launching large-scale clinical applications. As such it aims to expand its market-leading range of products for pre-clinical imaging with the addition of the MRI-SPECT product in 2010. In the future, GM-I plans to target specific clinical applications of the technology such as breast cancer imaging; neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; and atherosclerotic plaque in cardiovascular disease, areas where it believes the technology will make a large impact.