The Horizon 2020 STARSTEM project combines nanotechnology, photoacoustic imaging and regenerative medicine. The project is developing gold nano-star particles, which are embedded in stem cells used for regenerative medicine treatments. The nano-stars are used as effective contrast agent for MSOT imaging, making the photo-acousting imaging more sensitive, and allowing to detect very small quantities at great depth under the skin. The project will use gold-enhanced contrast agents to monitor and better understand how stem cell therapies for arthritis actually work. iThera and Pintail are both partners in STARSTEM.

Driven by leading dermatologists and market leading SMEs in optoacoustic and ultrasound technology, INNODERM will design and prototype a handheld, portable, scalable, label-free high-resolution optoacoustic device (RSOM) for point-of care dermatology applications. RSOM uses the same photoacoustic effect as MSOT, but at different resolution and depth regimes. INNODERM brings together key photonic & ultrasound technologies and will validate the technical and economic viability of RSOM in dermatology suites for fast diagnosis and skin disease monitoring. RSOM can go beyond the abilities of current optical or optoacoustic devices and offers a paradigm shift in dermatology imaging, substantiating successful business cases. iThera and RFO are both partners in InnoDerm.


The H2020 iNanoBIT project aims to apply nanotechnologies for imaging porcine pancreatic islet cellular transplants and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived beta-cells and subsequent regenerative processes in vivo in a porcine model. The project will provide the currently missing toolbox for preclinical/clinical testing for a safe translation of regenerative medicinal cellular and tissue products, currently under preclinical and clinical trials, which is vital for the competitiveness of the European healthcare sector in this fast-growing area. iThera are partners in iNanoBIT.

PAMMOTH’s objective is to develop, validate and begin exploitation of a dedicated breast imaging device for a significant impact in breast cancer diagnosis. The device combines non-invasive 3D photoacoustic imaging and ultrasound imaging to provide near real-time, full-breast, multimodal images . From the ultrasound mode, the radiologist will visualize anatomical features and extent of tumors, and from multiwavelength photoacoustics, she will see tumor vascularity. Quantitative spectroscopic photoacoustic images will be extracted off-line, providing information relating to tumor physiology and function. IMA are partners in PAMMOTH.


ESOTRAC, a 4-year European Commission Horizon 2020 research program bringing together engineers and physicians, aims to significantly improve the detection of early-stage esophageal cancer. The interdisciplinary, 5-country research team will develop an innovative endoscope that combines sensing of pathophysiological tissue signatures resolved by multi-spectral optoacoustic (photoacoustic) tomography (MSOT) with morphological disease signatures provided by optical coherence tomography (OCT).

The resulting system will operate in label-free mode and, due to its tomographic ability, visualize sub-surface tissue features, providing superior information of the esophageal wall compared to conventional video endoscopes. This comprehensive sub-surface information is expected to detect early-stage EC and enable disease staging, neither of which can be done reliably today. The novel endoscope can be further useful in reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies by providing more accurate guidance to suspicious areas over white-light endoscopy. RASFOS are partners in ESOTRAC.

The NEW DEAL project aims to develop a highly selective and local therapy with an improved efficacy and safety profile for IBD patients. This treatment might be an alternative to the existing therapies.

The use of nanotherapy based on siRNA, targeting specifically the molecular JAK1/JAK3, is a new approach to treat inflammatory bowel diseases. This innovative medicine will deliver a targeted and local therapy directly to the inflamed gut, through the gastrointestinal tract.