Philips targets cancer, cardiac disease with $21M imaging project

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Royal Philips Electronics is leading a €15.9 million ($20.8 million U.S.) project in Europe to develop image-guided drug delivery technologies that could impact the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

By allowing drugs to be delivered to disease sites via the patient’s bloodstream and then activated by focused ultrasound pulses, Philips said that the SonoDrugs project aims to maximize the therapeutic efficiency and minimize the side effects of drug treatments for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The project, which involves a total of 15 industrial partners, university medical centers and academic institutions from throughout the European Union, will run for four years and is funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework program.

The SonoDrugs project aims to develop drug delivery vehicles that can be tracked by ultrasound or MRI and triggered by ultrasound to release the drugs at the desired location, while also providing a means of tailoring the therapy to individual patients, according to Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of Philips’ healthcare research program.

The project will take a two-pronged approach: the first is based on MRI guidance and the second is based on ultrasound guidance. MRI-guided drug delivery will largely be targeted at potential treatments for cancer.

For potential applications in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, the project will focus on the use of ultrasound as the primary imaging modality as well as the means of releasing drugs from pressure sensitive microbubbles, van Houten said.