Through its very structure, the Institute adopts a transdisciplinary and translational approach, bringing into contact, upstream, researchers and engineers from very different domains (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, IT, electronics, nanotechnology, etc.) and downstream physicians raising their clinical problems and manufacturers who are able to carry out technology transfers swiftly. Each of the Institute’s areas tackles these challenges.
This field comprises several technologies including detection systems, imaging or contrast agents (tracers), data processing of signals and images and their integration into multimodalities.
The main challenges are to increase the sensitivity and definition of the images obtained (spatiotemporal resolution, new detectors and tracers, penetration and sensitivity), speed up data analysis, improve image reconstruction and reduce the doses of radiation emitted to patients for radiation examinations.
The challenges here consist of improving screening effectiveness (high-speed and high-content screening), evaluating the toxicity and bioavailability of possible drugs early on, developing tools for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic analysis, developing technologies for targeting and administering possible molecules on their target tissue, simplifying and accelerating the time it takes for drugs to be developed in translational mode and optimizing therapeutic follow-up.
One of the major objectives is to develop early diagnostic tests, in vitro and in vivo, which are specific to and reproducible for new diseases or diseases for which diagnosis is currently at too late a stage. The biocompatibility and implantability of micro- and nanotechnological solutions and the portability and tele-communication of data are also key challenges to rise to.
The main breakthroughs may particularly focus on the reliability, biocompatibility and performances of these technologies, miniaturization and automation of interventional tools, ongoing and parallel monitoring of patients’ physiological parameters, software programs that create realistic virtual images of the operation sites, tele-operability and, where applicable, the increase in energy autonomy.
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Inserm Unit 791 "Osteoarticular and dental engineering laboratory (LIOAD)". Faculty of dental surgery, Nantes. Les films unité, production Inserm/La Prod. 2008. Lasts: 3 min 23.
Projects on these research themes tend to last between 3 and 12 years. They are generally conducted in four stages: emergence of the concept in the research laboratory, evidence of the technological concept (experimental feasibility), evidence of the industrial concept (reproducibility and large-scale implementation) and promotion of the applications considered. The Institute also helps researchers in the last three stages, together with the promotion and transfer agencies of public research organizations. Too many promising projects are abandoned because the researchers just do not have the time, means or method to furnish proof of the technological and industrial concepts.