A Medical Device Daily

A major new EU-funded research project, led by Philips Research, a unit of Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), is aimed at further developing computer technology to enable clinicians to create computer models of the heart to help ensure that they make the best decisions for their patients before doing the procedure for real.

Computer technology has been developed that enables creation of models that not only reflect the individual anatomical make-up of the patient's real organ, but can also mimic accurately its movement as it beats. One of the goals of the new program is to also be able to map the unique electrical and muscle activity within the heart.

This means that in the future, clinicians should be able to work out the likely impact of different treatment options and so devise the best therapy for an individual patient.

It is predicted the models could help improve treatment of patients with heart failure, coronary artery disease and congenital heart defects. Another area in which it could be useful is in the case of rhythm disorders where doctors during a so-called minimally invasive procedure may use heat to destroy areas of tissue and restore the normal beat.

Currently doctors rely on clinical experience to decide which areas to target however this is a challenge as electrical activity in a person's heart is subtly different. With a computer model which matches the patient's anatomy and mimics the electrical activity of their heart, doctors could instead know in advance the likely impact of destroying specific areas of tissue and so work out the likely success of the treatment for a patient.

The models are created by combining data from existing diagnostic technologies such as CT, MRI, and ECGs, as well as measuring blood flow and pressure in the coronary arteries.

The euHeart project involves public and private partners from 16 research, academic, industrial and medical organizations from seven different European countries — Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France and the UK.

The project will run for four years and has a budget of €19 million, of which €14 million will be provided by the EU.

Within the consortium, the University of Oxford (Oxford, UK) is the scientific coordinator of the project, while King's College London leads the clinical program.

Reza Razavi, professor of pediatric cardiovascular science and head of the Division of Imaging Sciences at King's College London, said: "euHeart is a very exciting project that will bring together the latest advances in modeling and computing to improve the care of patients with heart disease. It may ultimately allow us to select and optimize the best treatment for individual patients."

Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare Research program, said, "In the euHeart project, we are confident that we can make a real contribution to improving the treatment of one of the most important world's killer diseases. The development of computer models that integrate structural and functional information of the heart and then personalize it to individual patients is a mammoth task that will require the multi-disciplinary effort of researchers with strong know-how in biophysical modeling and image processing, clinical experts and engineers in the device and imaging industries."

The euHeart project complements the recently announced EU-funded HeartCycle project, also led by Philips, which focuses on the long-term care of chronic heart disease patients.

Cardiovascular disease kills around 1.9 million people every year in the EU, with the associated health costs estimated to be €105 billion.

Czech firm bought by Hoya Vision Care

Hoya Corp.'s (Tokyo) Vision Care Division (Uithoorn, the Netherlands), a global player in the global ophthalmic lens market, said it has acquired Dioptra CZ, one of the leading distributors of ophthalmic lenses in the Czech Republic.

Dioptra has a long tradition in the optical field, with origins dating back to 1896. Hoya and Dioptra have worked together under an exclusive arrangement since 2000. Dioptra CZ employs 32 in Turnov, near Prague, and generated more than 14 million sales in 2007.

While the existing management team will remain in place, Rainer Burkard, director of global business development for Hoya Vision Care, will serve as acting managing director through the remainder of 2008.

In early 2009, Hoya expects to appoint Ivana Nechanicka as managing director of Dioptra. She currently is Southwest regional sales manager for Hoya Vision Care North America. A Czech native and one of Hoya's top sales producers, Nechanicka will return to her homeland after living in the U.S. for 35 years.

Hoya said the agreement with Dioptra will allow it to increase sales of high-end premium products in the fast-growing Czech market. It said it believes the Czech market is growing in excess of 10% a year, driven by an accelerated conversion of mineral to organic lenses, and bifocal to progressive designs.

Gerald Bottero, president/CEO of Hoya Vision Care, said, "We are excited about the future of Hoya in the Czech market, and expect to see higher sales of progressive lenses due to rising disposable incomes, a highly educated class of eyecare professionals and favorable demographic trends."

Hoya is a global participant in information technology, eye care, medical devices and imaging systems. It has more than 35,000 employees and operations across the globe.