MEDICS consortium is linking biomedicine and microtechnologies for 21st century healing

Sulzbach 21 December 2004To help European industries compete in the burgeoning 184 billion euro biomedical market, the European Union funded MEDICS consortium is working to make biomedical devices smaller, cheaper and more reliable, as well as developing completely new types of devices and applications.

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"One of our strengths is our capacity to market state-of-the-art microtechnologies, which is one of the key technologies for the 21st century", stated Andreas Schneider, Head of the MEDICS consortium. "Most industries are proficient in either the biomedical market or the microtechnology market, but usually not both. We know both markets and we know how to put them together for industries."

One of the most recent successes from MEDICS research and development is an application-specific integrated circuit designed for the world's only swallowable camera capsule. The camera is used in place of a traditional and more invasive endoscope for diagnosing disorders of the small bowel, such as Crohn's Disease and small bowel cancer.

The patient swallows the capsule and continues with daily activities. Over the course of about eight to 10 hours, the capsule travels naturally through the gastro-intestinal tract while transmitting two high-definition, full-colour images per second to a receiver worn on the patient's belt. The images are then downloaded to a computer that produces a video of the camera's journey, offering the diagnostician the opportunity to look for pathologies and diseases.

MEDICS is also developing a microsensor that can continuously monitor organs to be used in transplants, offering transplant teams vital information about the preservation of the organ. The MEDICS consortium provides services including contract research, workshops and training courses, feasibility studies and concept evaluation, and support in regulatory affairs, patent and market research, as well as technical due diligence.

The development, manufacturing and sale of biomedical products is complicated by the extremely high standards and requirements that biomedical products must meet, including biocompatibility, device security, quality and medical device regulations. In addition, the reorganisation of public health care systems increases the demand for cost-effective devices and more efficient methods.

To address these complexities, MEDICS is planning the "International Cooperation Forum on Wireless Systems for Biomedical Applications & Devices". The forum, which will take place in 26 April 2005 at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, follows up on previously organised workshops on "Packaging & Interconnection Technologies for Innovative Biomedical Devices", organised by MEDICS in 1999 and 2000.

MEDICS, the European Competence Centre for Biomedical Microdevices, emerged from the European Commission initiative Europractice in 1997 and then further developed under the IST project MICROMEDICS. The MEDICS consortium comprising the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, i2m DESIGN, Zarlink Semiconductor, and CSEM works within four main areas of competencies: active implants, micro-electronics, biomedical sensors and telemedicine.

For more information you can contact Andreas Schneider at Fraunhofer IBMT, Unit MEDICS, Industriestraße 5, D-66280 Sulzbach, Germany, Tel.: +49-6897-907142, Fax: +49-6897-907149 or visit the MEDICS Web site. This article was reprinted from the IST Results Web site.


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