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Digital Agenda: London Universities help discover new "virtual liver" technology
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Two London Universities have helped develop a "virtual liver" using EU research funding, which could help reduce the capital's rising liver disease mortality rates.

Teams from Imperial and University College London collaborated with scientists and surgeons from Switzerland, Germany and France to develop The PASSPORT project (Patient-Specific Simulation and Pre-Operative Realistic Training), which will help surgeons better plan and carry out tumour operations and ensure quicker patient recovery.

Liver transplants are only an option for a very small proportion of patients with liver disease, but another option is to remove the infected part of the organ and allow the liver to regenerate. To do so, surgeons need to know the tumour’s precise location, the volume of the functional liver which would remain, and the patient's overall health in order to accurately assess the chance of a successful intervention. The technology developed by PASSPORT pinpoints precisely where a tumour is and where they will have to operate to safely remove it.

Liver disease in the capital rose by 23% between 2007and 2008, higher than in any other part of the UK. Under current practices, less than 50% of patients undergo surgery. The PASSPORT project’s virtual liver could considerably increase this percentage.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "Liver cancer claims hundreds of thousands of lives in Europe and the world. The technology developed in the EU-funded PASSPORT project is a breakthrough that will improve diagnosis and surgery, and help to save lives."

    Digital Agenda: London Universities help discover new "virtual liver" technology


    Using EU-research funding to help improve citizens’ lives, medical knowledge, and enable high-tech industries are among the goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

    First results of the project clearly demonstrate the cost effectiveness and benefits of patient-specific surgical planning. The next step is making the software commercially available. This commercialisation will be a first step towards the routine clinical use of PASSPORT results.

    The PASSPORT project started in June 2008 and ended in December 2011. The total cost was €5,457,174 of which €3,635,049 came from EU funding.

    PASSPORT Project co-ordinator: IRCAD (France)

    • Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule • Zürich (Switzerland)

    • Technische Universität München (Germany)

    • Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK)

    • Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (France)

    • Universität Leipzig (Germany)

    • University College London (UK)

    • Université de Strasbourg (France)

    • KARL STORZ GmbH & CO. KG (Germany)

    • Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (France)

    Quote and interview contact:
    Professor David Hawkes, FMedSci, FREng, FInstP
    Director, Centre for Medical Image Computing, University College London (UCL)   
    direct tel: +44 (0) 20-7679-0321
    fax:  +44 (0) 20-7679-0255
    PA (Dominique Drai) +44 (0) 20-7679-0221


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 11/01/2012  |Top