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Novel Public-Private collaboration for imaging method development

The European Infrastructure for Translational Medicine (EATRIS) has formed a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to deliver a clinical and scientific expert network for the development and application of innovative imaging methods for inflammatory diseases.

While existing clinical imaging tools provide useful endpoints in clinical trials, they typically lack sufficient cellular and molecular information to fully understand drug response. Imaging has the potential to interrogate inflammatory cell populations, quantitatively in different tissues. This alliance aims to unlock this potential by delivering new clinical tools. Applying imaging in information-rich, small cohort studies can provide a high, immediate impact to enhance R&D productivity: developing our understanding of disease in the patient; enriching clinical trial cohorts; measuring therapeutic response.

The imaging hub aims to achieve these goals by (1) optimising existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) technology for drug development; and (2) translating emerging PET and optical cell-specific probes towards the clinic. The first three projects with a focus around immune cell specific imaging have now been initiated.

The initiative creates a scientific bridge between GSK’s clinical imaging scientists and five leading European imaging and experimental medicine research institutes within the EATRIS network: Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen, University Medical Center Groningen, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam from the Netherlands, and Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital from Sweden. To enable experts in the alliance to fully focus on the scientific and technical challenges, EATRIS acts as portfolio manager, playing a key role in developing and administering the legal framework and operations, for optimal speed and efficiency. EATRIS will facilitate initiation of both independent and collaborative transnational projects under a master framework, with up-front auditing and quality agreements.

Anton Ussi, operations and finance director of EATRIS comments; “In Europe, EATRIS is in a unique position to construct bespoke international research collaborations from concept to execution of contracts. We are very excited about this novel collaboration format, combining GSK’s wealth of knowledge around drug development with the clinical and technical expertise from EATRIS institutions having highly specialised molecular imaging and experimental medicine capacity, all supported with dedicated coordination staff within the EATRIS central support office.”