Münster/Steinfurt (17. April 2009). "We are the only university of applied sciences partner to participate in this program," says Prof. Dr. Karin Mittmann gladly. The head of the EUREGIO Biotech Center of the FH Münster - University of Applied Sciences is collaborating with eight partners from science and industry in the COLONVIEW reasearch initiative funded by the Federal Research Ministry (BMBF). The aim is to improve diagnosis and therapy of colorectal cancer with the aid of optical technologies.

Colorectal cancer is the one of the most common forms of cancer in Germany. It can grow undetected for a long time before it first causes symptoms. An early diagnosis is therefore crucial for the success of combating it. On one hand, the partners want to simplify the diagnosis of the carcinoma and on the other hand, to improve the surgial therapy by a more precise localization of the tumour.

Genetic changes in benign tumours in the intestinal mucosa is the cause of the carcinoma. These so-called polyps can be easily removed. In order for them to be better visible during the colonoscopy, the group has developed a probe and an endoscopic inspection system, which makes the cancer more visible through a dye in the intestines. For the therapy of cancers in more advanced stages, the researchers want to produce nanoparticles that permanently stain the ccancer. This would allow the surgeon to recognize the tumour from the outside. This would be a great opportunity for laparoscopic operations, which is performed through small holes in the abdominal wall - a much more gentle method for the patient. A method, however, which has the disadvantage of the doctor not being able to feel the tumour. With the help of nanoparticles, this would no longer be necessary.

For this purpose, Mittmann is investigating the scientific basis, in order to characterize the fluorescent nanoparticle probes and quantitatively detect them in the tissue. "With the funding, we are financing a research associate," says the university professor, "and technology: a high-sensitive camera for the present confocal laser scanning microscope and an automated staining system for immunohistology." Over 300,000 euros are available for this.

The researchers then met the coordinator Karl Storz, a partner from industry, in Tuttlingen in Baden-Württemberg to start the project. "We are confident that the ambitious goal - the early detection and intraoperative localization of the colorectal cancer - will be achieved in three years," says Mittmann.

On the subject:

The development of the methods for improved early detection and intraoperative localization of colorectal cancer of the collaborative project COLONVIEW is being carried out with the technology initiative Molekulare Bildgebung (MoBiTech), or in English, Molecular Imaging. With this funding initiative, the BMBF is further expanding the support for optical solutions for the health care sector. This is on top of the 100 million euros already being used to support research in the biophotonics area. The MoBiTech initiative is exploring new imaging systems, diagnostics and accompanying software solutions. They should help understand the cause of diseases, to diagnose them earlier and more precisely, and to treat them more targeted.

The partners of the project COLONVIEW, full title "Early detection and intraoperative localization of colorectal cancer," are accompanied by the clinic at the University of Jena, the clinic of the University of Freiburg, the Münster University of Applied Sciences, the surgial clinic of the Technical University of Munich, II. Medical clinic and policlinic of the Technical University of Munich, from industry KARL STORZ GmbH & Co. KG, PARItec GmbH, DYNOMICS GmbH, Signalomics GmbH.

Translated into English by B.Sc. Samuel Young

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