The WINTHER Project

Project at a Glance

Project Acronym: WINTHER            Project Title: Fast optoacoustic mesoscopy, using the skin as a window for therapeutic monitoring of local and systemic disease
Grant Number: 871763                    Program: Horizon 2020 Application driven Photonics components (ICT)                                                                       
Start Date: January 1, 2020              EU Contribution: € 4 292 170      
Project Duration: 60 Months

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Demonstration using an F-RSOM prototype scanner. Photo credit: Heddergott/ TUM

WINTHER is an EU funded project under the Horizon 2020 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) scheme. It brings together the expertise of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) and academic partners in the field of optoacoustic imaging. Optoacoustic (photoacoustic) imaging dramatically improves upon conventional penetration depth limits of microscopes (bio-optic barriers) and enables three-dimensional, high-resolution optical imaging deep inside tissues (several mm to cm). Previous research under the ICT program INNODERM has shown that mesoscopic optoacoustic imaging, or raster scan optoacoustic mesoscopy (RSOM), can image previously invisible pathophysiological, oxygenation and morphological features of the skin at depths of 1-5 mm. 

WINTHER builds on this success. While INNODERM focused on diagnostic dermatology, it has become apparent that RSOM can also assess progression and therapy not only in skin but also in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. However, to achieve this, RSOM should be able to assess endothelial function, ability that it is not yet available. 

The main objectives of the WINTHER project are to develop the functionality necessary to assess endothelial function with a next-generation of optoacoustic technology for achieving fast RSOM (F-RSOM). Using the skin as a window for disease assessment aided by modern computational algorithms and artificial intelligence, WINTHER aims to improve the clinical accuracy of RSOM and shift the paradigm in therapeutic monitoring of cardio-metabolic diseases and inflammatory skin conditions, strengthening Europe’s leadership in photonics and in personalized medicine. The project is driven by iThera Medical with a strong history of commercializing optoacoustics for clinical applications, by leading physicians (TUMHUNIMED), and by RSOM, RSOM components and data analysis experts (TUMiTheraRayfos, Sonaxis).