Project leaderUdo Weigel
Participating organizationsICFO, HemoPhotonics
To develop and market medical devices based on non-invasive photonic technology to monitor blood flow and oxygenation levels in microvessels in different types of human tissue in real time. Under the framework of the European BabyLux project, a new optical system has been developed that can measure blood flow and oxygenation levels in microvessels in the brains of premature babies, which helps reduce the risks associated with brain damage caused by insufficient oxygen supply.
HemoPhotonics is a spin-off of the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO). Specifically, the company came out of the ICFO Medical Optics group, led by ICREA professor Turgut Durduran, who is an expert in diffuse optical imaging and monitoring techniques. Under the framework of the BabyLux project, HemoPhotonics and ICFO have joined forces with the other seven partners from four European countries: Politecnico di Milano, Capital Region of Denmark, Fraunhofer IPT, PicoQuant, Loop, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda and Fondazione Politecnico di Milano. The members of the consortium have extensive experience, both academic and industrial, in diffuse optical imaging, industrial design and clinical research in neonatology.
Most significant challenges
From a technical standpoint, the project has combined two types of photonic technology in near-infrared spectroscopy for the first time (TRS and DCS), which has posed a challenge in terms of designing and building the integrated system. The main challenge, however, was the limitation on including new developments or improvements to the device due to the characteristics of the call.
Most of the funding for the project came from the European Commission's ICT Policy Support Program, under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP) 2007-2013 (FP7). The challenges still pending for this project include certification for the device, which is the most intensive in terms of funding needs.
After an initial validation in the laboratory, the two Babylux neuromonitors were moved to neonatal ICUs in Milan and Copenhagen, where 60 measurements were conducted on 35 babies. In the results of these tests, Babylux shows less variability than commercial devices currently in use and has also been proven to be safe in terms of acute adverse reactions. The measurement campaigns are ongoing in both cities in order to consolidate preclinical research and foster future use of the device in care settings.
Although BabyLux is geared towards pediatric neurology, the technology developed can also find applications in other clinical areas, like vascular medicine, oncology, endocrinology, anesthesiology and sports medicine, which opens up potential lines of business that HemoPhotonics is currently exploring.