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German Innovation Prize awarded to iThera Medical GmbH

iThera Medical GmbH, which was founded in 2010 as a spin-off from the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), has received the 2014 German Innovation Prize in the category “Start-ups”. The company won over the jury with its diagnostic imaging technology. Based on an innovative optoacoustic response sequence, it enables body tissues to be examined in a very gentle manner.

Source: iThera Medical GmbH

MSOT technology (Multispectral Optoacoustic Tomography) converts laser impulses into acoustic signals, then translates them into three-dimensional images. All kinds of tissue can thus be revealed without causing any damage. In addition to providing anatomical images, the procedure delivers functional as well as molecular information in real-time.

Scientists at the HMGU promote basic research for the new technology
The biomedical imaging procedure was developed by Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos, Director of the Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging at the HMGU, and Prof. Daniel Razansky, Head of the Laboratory for Experimental Biological Imaging Systems at HMGU. In 2010, the scientific idea was pursued by the start-up with the support of the GoBio program, which was launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). “Congratulations to the iThera Medical GmbH on winning this award,” commented Prof. Günther Wess, Scientific Director of the HMGU. “The prize highlights the successful development and intrinsic value of our spin-offs and the research on which it is based.”

MSOT is used to investigate disease processes at a molecular level and to analyze the pharmacokinetic properties of therapeutic substances. In future, MSOT also looks set to make an important contribution to clinical diagnostics. “I am delighted about the Innovation Prize as it pays tribute to the great potential of applications for MSOT technology,” said Prof. Ntziachristos, who invented the technology.

“Earlier detection of disease and better treatments”

The Innovation Prize is awarded by Accenture, EnBW, Evonik and WirtschaftsWoche in recognition of outstanding, future-oriented innovations by German companies that change business activity and markets, thanks to their innovative strength. Innovation Prize jury member Dr. Klaus Engel was impressed by the scientists’ inventive talent. “First you have to come up with the idea of creating sounds with light impulses and then convert them into images,” the CEO of the technology group Evonik said. “If this technology becomes established and proves reliable, doctors will in future be able to detect many diseases at an earlier stage and treat them better.”

In conjunction with its technology transfer partner Ascenion, the Innovation Management department at the HMGU promotes scientific spin-offs so that knowledge gained through research can be applied as quickly as possible, for the benefit of society. The scientists receive support so they can further develop their projects, increase their value added and protect them by patent.

Further information

German Innovation Prize 2014

iThera Medical GmbH

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medicine, i.e. a customized approach to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of widespread diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung disease. To that end, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. It has about 2,200 staff members and is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organization, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with some 34,000 staff members.

Innovation Management at Helmholtz Zentrum München