New collaboration in radiology. MedTechLabs has chosen Collective Minds Radiology for its investment in teaching in acute stroke. The contract is for three years and allows the platform to be used for other areas as well. The idea is that the new cloud technology will both contribute to faster implementation of new treatment methods and increase interest in radiology among younger physicians.

MedTechLabs focuses on major diseases, such as cancer and stroke, and is located next door to the new Karolinska University Hospital in Solna. An important goal is to ensure that research results are quickly used in healthcare. With the cloud service from Swedish Collective Minds Radiology, MedTechLabs will now offer the further developed e-course “Acute stroke treatment within 24 hours – decision support with perfusion”, led by Håkan Almqvist, senior physician, and specialist in neuroradiology at Capio St Göran. The target group is students in the residency program in radiology and active radiologists throughout Sweden.

– The collaboration is a good example of how MedTechLabs collaborates with other life science actors to disseminate research results and increase implementation in Swedish healthcare. Collective Minds Radiology got its start at KI Innovation and MedTechLabs has its premises and CT lab directly adjacent to Karolinska University Hospital, five minutes from the hospital’s clinical activities, says Håkan Almqvist.

The agreement between MedTechLabs and Collective Minds Radiology runs for three years and means that other projects within MedTechLabs can also use the platform to share and interact with radiological images in a secure way. With a growing elderly population, increased digitization in health care, and the new opportunities in diagnostics that technological development brings, it is important that researchers and clinicians get better tools to collaborate on radiological images.

– Collective Minds Radiology was founded with the vision of building the world’s largest platform for collaboration in health, starting with radiology. Today we are a hub for collaboration between academia, healthcare and business, all of which need each other, explains Anders Norell, co-founder and CEO of Collective Minds Radiology.

With new advances in medical research, there is a growing need for education where radiological images are central to learning. “However, there is a shortage of skilled radiologists in Sweden, which is a problem for the healthcare system,” explains Niclas Roxhed, Director of MedTechLabs.

– By launching our redesigned e-course on this modern platform, we also hope to increase interest in the field of radiology among the doctors who are currently training. Ultimately, it is crucial for academia, hospitals, and medical technology companies that we secure tomorrow’s competence in radiology, concludes Niclas Roxhed.

The e-course “Acute stroke treatment within 24 hours – decision support with perfusion” will be launched on Collective Minds Radiology’s platform during the year and will be free of charge for healthcare professionals in Region Stockholm and available for the entire Nordic region.

Close on June 7th. MedTechLabs announces a call for funding of research programs in the areas of (1) Precision health and (2) Data-driven healthcare research.

The research should be focused on medical technology with clear clinical applications for preventing and treating widespread diseases. The call opened on April 4th and closes on June 7th, 2023. The estimated project start is January 1st, 2024. Johan Schuber, Executive Director for MedTechLabs, is in charge of the process. 

Read more. 

Call for a new research program with deadline June 7. 

MedTechLabs research center is a collaboration between KTH Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Karolinska Institutet (KI), and Region Stockholm. MedTechLabs’ main objective is to perform world-leading demand-driven research in medical technology, aiming for better and more cost-effective health care. The research should lead to improved diagnostics, therapy, and patient management. Therefore, the focus is primarily on research with a potential to be applied in a clinical environment within five years. Another objective is to create conditions required for implementing and disseminating new knowledge and methods in Region Stockholm, and then nationally and internationally.

Achieving these goals involves interdisciplinary collaboration in technology and medicine in the Stockholm region. Researchers from KI and KTH will work together to develop technology and methods in a clinical environment. The center will be developed through a new program area with new constellations.

Call for funding

MedTechLabs announces a call for funding of research programmes in the areas of (1) Precision health and (2) Data-driven healthcare research.The research should be focused on medical technology with clear clinical applications for preventing and treating widespread diseases.

Precision health aims for increased and more equal health by using data about the individual’s biology, lifestyle and environment to prevent, diagnose and treat with precision. Recent advancements in technology and knowledge mean that medicine now faces new opportunities to quickly obtain large amounts of biological data from patients. Using this information effectively will allow us to achieve molecularly precise diagnoses and thereby tailor individual treatments—i.e. precision medicine. Today, society’s resources are mainly spent on diagnosis and treatment, and very little on prevention. Precision medicine will provide great and cost-effective opportunities to give more people a longer healthier life.

Data-driven healthcare research: The “data-driven” concept springs from the modern technological advances that continue to produce mountains of systematic, comprehensive, and deep data.  Researchers that can use the available data can mine it and discover unexpected and unpredictable relationships and new knowledge. At the same time, computing power, machine learning, AI, and other technologies available to process the data, have dramatically improved and present great opportunities for those who successfully link it to clinical research.

Each programme must involve one programme director from KI and one from KTH. The programmes should have the potential to deliver breakthrough developments within precision health and/or data-driven healthcare research, in areas characterized by high disease burden in society. 

The research programmes should clearly describe the health challenge that will be addressed, the proposed approach, how patients will benefit from the research, and the respective contribution of the collaborating KI and KTH researchers. 

MedTechLabs intends to support one to two programmes in the range of SEK 2–7 million per year and programme respectively, during four to five years. The call opens April 4th and closes June 7th , 2023. The estimated project start is January 1st, 2024.

Conditions for applying

How to apply
Applications will be processed through Region Stockholm’s portal for research applications, read more in  document_258442_MedTechLabs_2024_Call_updated_12-04-2023.pdf (pdf 270 kB) for instructions how to apply.

Summary: The summary shall outline:

The research programmes should be maximum 10 pages in Arial font size 12 pt, line-spacing 1.15, and should include:

Additional required documents:

Magnus Boman is Professor of Intelligent Software Services at KTH and project manager for the AI@KI project. The MedTechLabs Board has now also commissioned him to carry out a survey of needs in the healthcare sector with regard to AI, identify synergies between research centres and propose training courses in the area, that MedTechLabs should be responsible for.

Hi Magnus! Can you give us some background to this exciting assignment?

– Hello! Well, since I started working with AI@KI 2020, I have been in contact with a lot of researchers who are at the forefront of AI application and key people at Karolinska University Hospital and in the Stockholm Region. AI is also something that runs through much of the research conducted by the researchers at MedTechLabs. So the conditions for jointly contributing further to the development and application of AI within the region seemed to be good. 

What will be the outcome of the survey?

– It will result in strategic advice for Region Stockholm, KTH, KI and MedTechLabs, as well as supporting the region’s work with precision medicine at the Precision Medicine Centre and in the hospitals. The focus here is on imaging, but also on more forward-looking trends, such as the role of AI in quantum technology for healthcare, an area where expectations are sky-high. 

How will you go about creating synergies between the centres?

– Based on the areas I have found, the idea is that I will also work to ensure that we maximise the opportunities for new and deeper collaborations in AI. This could include collaborations between the Centre for Imaging Research and Quantum for Life Sciences, but also larger, new relevant projects such as TEF (within the Vinnova call TEF Health), where testbeds will be developed at KI with the help of SciLifeLab, and of course also ongoing activities within MedTechLabs. 

And then AI education on top of this?

– Yes, many have contacted us with offers of training services since we conducted a series of appreciated seminars on AI methods within AI@KI. The idea is that I will review these and see what training activities can and should be held under supervision of MedTechLabs, and also help with the content and scope of courses. 

It sounds like you’re going to be busy?

– The assignment is equivalent to 20% of a full-time job and I will continue to work on my own research on lung cancer, among other things. I have many master’s students this spring, from both KI and KTH, who are all doing potentially meaningful things with AI for the future of healthcare and research. It’s very inspiring to be able to help the region and academia benefit from the technology that will have such a huge impact on both hospitals and patients. Then there’s the hope that it will continue to generate new medtech and AI companies that will also create job and export opportunities, something we already have several good examples of. I’m also keeping an eye on international developments, I’m currently visiting MILA in Montreal, perhaps the best AI institute in the world right now, which has a strong interest in medicine and health.

The project, funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF), is carried out in collaboration with GE Healthcare and is led by Erik Fredenberg, adjunct professor at KTH.

We meet Erik Fredenberg on a Wednesday morning in the Bioclinicum research building, which is co-located with Karolinska University Hospital in Solna. This summer, he became an adjunct professor at KTH and will lead the work on virtual clinical trials with the photon-counting CT machine located in MedTechLab’s CT lab, just a few metres from where we are. The project, funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF), is in collaboration with GE Healthcare, which is behind parts of the technology, including the new silicon detectors in the machine.

Congratulations on the new post and the project. What will you be working on?

– Thank you! The project I will be leading is based on a research grant from the SSF and I applied for it about two years ago, as a collaboration between industry and academia. The SSF grant will fund half a day a week of my work and GE Healthcare will provide another half day, so a total of one day a week. Then KTH is the host university for the project, so my employment is there. The project is linked to my existing position at GE Healthcare and will contribute to the exchange between industry and academia. Basically, the project will be carried out as when we wrote the application, but the status has been moved up as the research has progressed further. So, we are in an even better position to deliver now. I may also teach in the form of tutoring students. My workplace will continue to be GE HealthCare’s premises at Alba Nova, where I am already next door to the research group at KTH, and here in MedTechLab’s CT lab at BioClinicum.

Can you tell us more about the project and what it will lead to?

– I started in the field of mammography where we also worked on photo counting. Even then we could see great benefits of photon counting but one limitation was that there were not many applications of the technology in clinical practice. As a developer of new technology, you also need to explain and provide guidance around how it can be used. Photon counting CT can do a great many things, but it is important to also show applications and their benefits, where and how the technology can be useful. And this is precisely why an effective and good technical framework is needed to test all possible applications. This is where virtual clinical trials come in. They need to demonstrate in a coherent environment how things like improved iodine contrast can affect everyday clinical practice. Results from such technical tests can also serve as a basis for subsequent clinical studies with patients. There are a host of entirely new applications that can be achieved through the improved spatial resolution provided by photon counting CT and the ability to measure the energy of photons, i.e. the “colour” of radiation. A new world is opening up and there are many ideas and possibilities. But as I said, they need to be tested. GE already has a simulation tool for CT imaging that we are further developing for photon counting and which we will also validate with measurements in the lab. With that we are starting to test simpler applications, in the longer term we want to be able to run complete virtual clinical trials and then the vision is to get them so good that they can become part of a regulatory trial.

Why are virtual clinical trials needed – there are regular ones?

– Clinical trials are the best, but they are expensive and take a long time. Plus, after all, it involves radiation of patients, which should be minimized. So, there is a need to test applications technically, virtually, before starting a clinical trial. The term virtual clinical trial has been around for a few years and started, as far as I know, in mammography. In virtual clinical trials, the whole imaging process is simulated in a computer. There is a software phantom, a virtual human being with organs, and then you simulate radiation, detection, even the observation process, i.e. the work of the radiologist or other expert can be put into the simulation. Eventually this will be used as part of a regulatory trial. The US FDA, among others, is working to get there eventually.

How can your research project contribute to the development of CT?

– Hopefully what we do here will rub off on others working in the field. There is a lot going on around the development of photon counting CT and as we demonstrate it and now take it to clinical simulations, it may increase interest in the region and lead to more research. This is the next big step in CT since the introduction of semiconductor detectors in the 1980s. After all, CT is also the largest X-ray modality in the world today. That we are on the verge of something revolutionary is also proven by the fact that the big companies are now investing more than ever in the development of photon-counting CT.

What do you think of the research infrastructure, the CT lab, that is here?

– It’s invaluable and works incredibly well. We’re running a clinical trial already and the collaboration with the hospital is working smoothly with patients and our “gantry”, the machine that’s here. Before, it was located at Alba Nova and we took pictures of the first patients there, but it was quite uncomfortable. Doctors, nurses, and patients are all gathered here. The rest of GE Healthcare and others we work with also think it’s a great location to be able to work with Karolinska University Hospital. The Bioclinicum itself is also an exciting bridge between different stakeholders – healthcare, academia, and industry. It’s also nice that the CT lab is geographically close to our premises at GE Healthcare and not in a completely different part of the country. Here we have our own premises where we can meet physicians physically in peace and quiet and talk to them about the images. They don’t have to go to Alba Nova, which is important because they have their clinical routine. You really want to be able to give them the benefit of not having to travel away from the hospital and their patients.

Mats Danielsson, program leader at MedTechLabs and professor of Medical Imaging Physics at KTH, has received SEK 925 000 for his research in medical imaging technology that can enable earlier diagnosis of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The prize is awarded by the Hans Wigzell Research Foundation.

Hans Wigzell is Professor of Immunology at Karolinska Institutet, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), and a former President of Karolinska Institutet. Mats Danielsson receives the prize from the Research Foundation for his research in medical imaging technology that can enable earlier diagnosis of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

For more information, read the press release from the Hans Wigzell Research Foundation here (in Swedish).

Three- and four-year funding for cancer projects. We congratulate MedTechLab's researcher Fredrik Strand who has recently been awarded research funding from both the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Cancer Foundation. 

In October, Fredrik Strand was awarded SEK 6,000,000 in funding from the Swedish Research Council (spread over four years) for the project “Developing machine learning models for MRI-based precision medicine for breast cancer”. And in November, he was awarded a further SEK 2 400 000 (three years) from the Swedish Cancer Foundation.

How photon counting CT is changing the healthcare. 20th of October 2022, Dr. Amir Pourmorteza held a lecture titled “State of the art and future for medical imaging in healthcare” at Karolinska Institutet, invited by MedTechLabs. We had a chance talking to him just after the well visited seminar at Nobels väg 11 in Solna.

Hi Amir! You’re in Stockholm for the disputation of Fredrik Grönberg for which you were the opponent. And now you held this much appreciated lecture. What else will you be doing at your stay here?

– I will also see the new photon counting CT-scanner at MedTechLabs just across the street from here. This, and meeting and discussing with colleagues here at KI and KTH. I also brought some samples that could be useful for developing new applications of this technology.

What is your key take-away of what photon counting imaging will bring about to the healthcare?

– Photon counting CT gives us ultra-resolution, obviously, but there are also applications that simply are not possible without photon counting. Like spatial resolution and multi-contrast imaging. In oncology where you use different contrast agents to determine the treatment, this will be very useful. Photon counting CT will also be used in minimal invasive surgery. It takes time for the surgeon to follow the vessels and find the right path. With robotics and 3D-guidence, these processes will be faster and better. And it will be possible to use automation better, at least for parts of the surgery, which is a huge step. One thing that my research shows it that with ultra-resolution, we will now also have to consider anatomic movement, this was not of importance before. In the same way that we make motion estimation and correction adjustments for medical imaging of the heart, we will need to do it for the abdomen and the brain. Everything in the body pulsates. So, this is an open problem right now.

So, big changes for the surgeon and physician?

– There might be an adjustment for the radiologists as well, because they will have to read different kind of images. Will it take longer time to identify a tumor with a ultra-resolution image than a standard image, because of all the new information, or will it be easier? There will be new challenges for the computer programmers as well. These are non-technical issues, but they are important and will affect the workflow. There are only about 1 000 ultra-resolution scans in the whole world right now, so we don’t know that much on how working conditions will change.

What areas besides cancer and tumors will be getting better diagnosis and treatment?

– There are many, but I can give you one example. Children with cystic fibrosis will need to have many scans once the disease is identified. With photon counting CT their radiation doses could be reduced with 95 percent. The drugs used for their conditions come with side effects, so you really want to verify if they have the desired effect on the individual child. With photon counting imaging it’s easier to see in detail if the airways are benefiting from the drug used, you could see changes in the thickness of the mucus within one month instead of having to wait three months to see the effects. This also important since the drugs used are expensive, you don’t want to waste them.

Dr. Amir Pourmorteza is an assistant professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering at the Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the director of Advanced Medical Imaging and Reconstruction Laboratory at Winship Cancer Institute. His research interests include translational of CT technologies and the impact of novel CT technologies on clinical workflow. He is an internationally known pioneer in the field of photon-counting CT. Dr. Pourmorteza was a staff scientist at the NIH Clinical Center where he conducted numerous first-in-human experiments on photon-counting detector CT.

Sara Norman is Director of Operations at the Swedish Kidney Association. In this interview, Sara explains how the Federation views research into new treatments and clinical trials, among other things.

Hi Sara! What challenges do you see regarding new treatments in healthcare?

– I can give an example. There is currently a new treatment being researched that will help patients whose own antibodies easily reject foreign organs to still manage a transplant. The NT Council (Council for New Therapies) has recommended that regions use this treatment. Yet the treatment is not available because the region does not know who will pay. Unfortunately, I have seen this before, that research comes up with new, fantastic possibilities for patients, but then the regions are left with their budget and do not know where the money will come from.

How can this be changed?

– One problem is information, that not enough people in healthcare know about the new treatments. At the Kidney Association, we keep a good eye on the surrounding world and can see when the regulatory authorities bring up treatments for recommendation and give their approval. But doctors are not always reached by this information, sometimes patients are better informed than they are. Procurement rules can also hamper the introduction of good medical technology into healthcare. Pressured by finances, healthcare providers make poor procurement decisions that can pose safety risks. Similarly, procurement rules can hamper new and effective solutions because of a lack of expertise or because the rules make it impossible. So more than information, some regulations and procurement practices may also need to be modernised.

Clinical trials are needed for the development of new medical technologies, how do you view these?

– My understanding is that the attitude to participate in clinical trials is very good. Then there is the challenge of inviting patients to participate. The Kidney Association has 4,000 members. In total, about 4,000 people in Sweden receive dialysis and more than 6,000 have a transplanted kidney. These people don’t always want to think of themselves as kidney patients, but they would benefit personally from kidney research and new methods. But in our association, there are many who are driven by the possibility to feel better and members are super interested in ongoing research and research results.

How do you see your involvement in MedTechLab’s Patient Council?

– We want to contribute to the dialogue between patients and research, which is one of the reasons for the Patient Council. Then we can inform our members about the research through our channels. If there is ongoing research that concerns our members, they want to hear about it. It doesn’t have to be about finalized results, but everything that is going on and concerns them is of interest.

Read more about the Kidney Association on their website

2022 is not over and already several researchers at the centre's project "Optical 3D microscopy for more effective treatment of kidney diseases" have enjoyed good success.