MedUni Vienna: Research into precise tools for personalised medicine

Christian Doppler Laboratory for MR imaging biomarkers opened at MedUni Vienna

Imaging biomarkers are considered to be particularly valuable tools in precision medicine, a future trend to which MedUni Vienna attaches great importance. The Christian Doppler Laboratory for MR Imaging Biomarkers, which has now opened at MedUni Vienna, aims to research new indicators for magnetic resonance imaging in order to improve the early detection of diseases such as osteoarthritis as well as the diagnosis of rare diseases or the planning of neurosurgical interventions. The focus is on the translational approach with the aim of bringing new knowledge from basic research into clinical application as quickly as possible.

As almost all diseases exhibit an entire range of specific modifications, for example in biochemistry or cell density, even before disease-typical structural changes or symptoms appear, MR-based biomarkers are considered to be highly relevant in medicine. MR-based biomarkers not only make it possible to map the pathological changes in the body, but also to determine the various characteristics of the affected tissue without the use of invasive biopsies.

MedUni Vienna's new CD Laboratory for MR Imaging Biomarkers (BIOMAK) is dedicated to researching new MR-based biomarkers and their clinical application: "In cooperation with our corporate partners, new MRI methods are being developed and validated in the BIOMAK CD Laboratory, which will allow new imaging biomarkers to be used in patient care in the future," says BIOMAK head Wolfgang Bogner from MedUni Vienna's Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, outlining the focus of the new research facility.

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"Precision medicine, early detection and ever better imaging techniques are major trends in medical research and bearers of hope for combating many diseases," emphasises Minister of Labour and Economic Affairs Martin Kocher. "This new CD Laboratory is especially concerned with better diagnoses, for example of tumours, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or arthrosis. The close cooperation of excellent basic research with innovative companies also makes it possible to translate research results into therapies and procedures as quickly as possible, a major advantage of the CD Laboratory."

"With its translational approach, the newly established Christian Doppler Laboratory for MR Imaging Biomarkers is another example of MedUni Vienna's practice of closely linking basic research and clinical application. In this manner, new scientific findings flow directly into the development of innovative therapies for our patients," says Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, underlining the importance of CD laboratories.

"We have a long-standing and experienced cooperation with the Christian Doppler Research Association. As an industry partner, it is particularly important for us to link the ideas from excellent research units with the needs that are brought to industry from the healthcare sector at an early stage and to jointly develop them into meaningful clinical applications with the contribution of innovative medical technology in the sense of a win-win situation," emphasises Joachim Bogner, Managing Director of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics GmbH Austria.

"For the Munich-based Brainlab AG and its subsidiary Snke OS GmbH, the first-time participation in a renowned Christian Doppler laboratory represents a promising opportunity to explore important synergies between radiology and neurosurgery in terms of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic procedures using our application-specific software solutions for planning and navigating surgical interventions. With this in mind, we are looking forward to the multi-year collaboration with MedUni Vienna, in which important MR tomographic data, such as for functional mapping and detection of the metabolic 'fingerprint' of pathological tissue, will be collected together with the two specialist hospitals and used to further develop the Brainlab Elements software," says Patrick Hiepe, Clinical Research Manager, Brainlab AG and Snke OS GmbH.

"In the field of dietetics, it has not yet been possible to demonstrate the success of nutritional therapy by imaging. We are pleased to contribute to this outstanding project and to be able to accompany another innovative step for patients in the field of inborn errors of metabolism," adds Andrea Walter, Sales & Marketing Manager Austria & Switzerland, Vitalflo Int. Ltd.

About the CD Laboratory for MR Imaging Biomarkers (BIOMAK)

BIOMAK has five main research areas: The development of biomarkers for the early detection of osteoarthritis, the imaging of various biochemical substances and the imaging of iron deposits and veins in the brain, various biomarkers for the characterisation of rare diseases, and the validation and application of these biomarkers in the treatment of patients (especially in neurosurgical planning).

In the long term, many of these precise tools of personalised medicine also have high potential in drug development, as validated quantitative biomarkers for successful therapy response could complement or even replace much more elaborate and invasive methods for monitoring therapy success. Last but not least, MR-based biomarkers that provide more precise insights into the metabolisation of nutrients in humans may open up new opportunities in the food sector.

About the Christian Doppler Laboratories

In Christian Doppler Laboratories, application-oriented basic research is carried out at a high level, with outstanding scientists cooperating with innovative companies. The Christian Doppler Research Association is internationally regarded as a best-practice example for the promotion of this cooperation. Christian Doppler Laboratories are jointly financed by the public sector and the participating companies. The most important public funding body is the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economic Affairs.

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