MedPhab: Medical pilot line for European SMEs

03 July 2020


MedPhab, is an open-access medical pilot line that enables researchers, SMEs and businesses to turn their diagnostic and treatment devices that use photonics into industrially-relevant demonstrators. The aim is to create easy access for European SMEs, researchers and businesses to a unified infrastructure dedicated to manufacturing, testing, validation and up-scaling of new photonics technologies that are used for medical diagnostics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need to quickly develop diagnostic equipment in the face of a novel threat. At present, many infectious diseases like COVID-19 or HIV/AIDS do not have an adequate vaccine so patients rely on early, rapid diagnosis for effective treatment and survival.

Photonics – the technology based on light – provides healthcare professionals with highly targeted, minimally invasive diagnostics that detect body signals, symptoms and diseases early on.

Developing medical devices can take many years from concept to clinical trials. While researchers and SMEs work to develop life-saving surgical tools, therapeutics and diagnostic devices, the work is carried out often in small and medium-sized companies, that often struggle to overcome such long and expensive processes. The team behind the pilot line aims to cut the costs involved in research and development of diagnostic devices.

To speed up the manufacturing of innovative photonics medical equipment, the European Commission has dedicated €15 million to set up a single-point entry medical ‘pilot production line’ under Horizon 2020, the framework programme for research and innovation. MedPhab coordinator Jussi Hiltunen said: “MedPhab is Europe’s first Pilot Line dedicated to manufacturing, testing and up-scaling of new photonics technologies for medical diagnostics enabling accelerated product launch with reduced R&D costs.

“We are giving researchers a way to develop research and development to market and to bridge the ‘valley of death’ – the impasse often associated with moving from prototyping to low-volume fabrication – while being cost-effective with faster delivery times. “Our easy infrastructure provides the right experts for our clients to help them overcome integrating miniaturised photonic devices. “When a project leaves MedPhab, their device will be at TRL 6 to 7, at a stage ready for pre-clinical trials, however, our clients can come to us at many different Technology Readiness Levels.” MedPhab focusses on photonics products to tackle the ‘instant diagnosis of major diseases.’

With its ability to reveal constituents and visualise incredibly small details in cells and tissues at a molecular level, photonics – the technology that uses and manipulates light – helps doctors and clinicians to understand diseases with greater specificity and sensitivity without being invasive.

Helping its clients to implement cutting-edge photonics technologies into their medical diagnostics products, MedPhab believes it will significantly improve health and patient care: Hiltunen added: “There are exciting opportunities for research into the next generation of photonics-based medical diagnostic devices and MedPhab partners can help academic research groups by providing test devices that are required in pre-clinical studies.” To ensure that the prototypes adhere to the highest medical standards, MedPhab selects companies that are validated with ISO13485 standardised manufacturing. Use-case companies have been selected for the validation of the pilot line services covering both in-vivo and in-vitro domains.

The devices MedPhab focuses on are within three application areas: hospital use, home care devices and equipment for molecular diagnostics. The pilot line also focuses on some specific technologies, including Fibre optics, Microfluidics, Surface functionalisation, Instrumentation, Optoelectronic integration, Custom medical patches, Miniaturisation for micromodules and wearables.

The pilot line is coordinated by Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy in Finland and includes seventeen other partners from across Europe, including (Ireland) University College Cork – National University of Ireland, Cork, Stryker European Operations Limited, Radisens Diagnostics Limited; (Austria) Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft Mbh, Jabil Circuit Austria Gmbh, Genspeed Biotech Gmbh, Viennalab Diagnostics Gmbh; (Belgium) Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum, Antelope Dx; (Finland) Screentec Oy, Polar Electro Oy; (Switzerland) Csem Centre Suisse D’electronique Et De Microtechnique Sa – Recherche Et Developpement; (Netherlands) Philips Electronics Nederland Bv, Stichting Het Nederlands Kanker Instituut-Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek Ziekenhuis; (France) III-V LAB, European Photonics Industry Consortium; (Czechia) Amires Sro.

Published by on June 24, 2020
Image by Shutterstock


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