Official Opening of SBIC – iThera Medical Imaging Centre

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A*STAR SBIC and iThera Medical opened a joint Imaging Centre specializing in bio-optical imaging, the first of its kind in the world. This initiative underscores their close academic-industry collaboration with the purpose of driving breakthroughs in optoacoustic translational research.

We feel honored that SBIC chose iThera Medical as its preferred industry partner in the field of optoacoustics.

The Laboratory of Bio-Optical Imaging (LBOI) at A*STAR’s Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) has a long history of research achievements using optical imaging technologies. Since 2013, LBOI has worked extensively in the field of optoacoustics, an imaging technology that enables high resolution imaging of deep tissue with distinct optical contrast, which other optical imaging technologies are incapable of providing. By teaming up with iThera Medical, the world leader in optoacoustic imaging systems, SBIC further strengthens its research platform to drive translational research and improve healthcare outcomes.

SBIC’s research focuses on oncology, dermatology, neuroscience, and metabolic disorders. In all of these areas, SBIC has already successfully conducted optoacoustic imaging studies and published their results in high-impact scientific journals. Following the exploration of disease mechanisms and their optoacoustic fingerprint in preclinical animal models, SBIC’s projects have more recently been translated into the clinical field, with several first-in-man studies already completed. Recent patient studies include the assessment of non-melanoma skin tumors, margin assessment in breast tissue specimens, and inflammation monitoring in eczema.

The underlying physical principle of optoacoustic imaging is the “photoacoustic effect”, which describes the conversion of light energy via absorption into acoustic waves. Although this principle was discovered in the late 19th century, it was only recently commercially applied in the field of biomedical imaging. iThera Medical, an academic spin-off company based in Munich, has taken the lead in developing imaging systems for preclinical and clinical research. Already in 2013, SBIC started using iThera Medical scanners to enter the field of preclinical optoacoustic imaging. Since then, the collaboration has grown, and now extends to a local presence of iThera Medical at SBIC as well as the opening of the joint Imaging Centre.

“With multispectral optoacoustic tomography, or MSOT, we have the unique opportunity to explore changes of optical tissue properties, at much higher resolution in deep tissue than feasible with traditional optical methods,” explains Prof. Malini Olivo, Director of the Laboratory of Bio-Optical Imaging at SBIC. “This capability allows us to identify changes in tissue chromophores such as hemoglobin, melanin and lipids, as well as to quantify changes in tissue oxygenation that are associated with diseases such as glioblastoma, breast or skin cancer. More recently, we have also implemented iThera Medical’s high-resolution raster-scanning optoacoustic mesoscopy technology, or RSOM, to explore skin diseases. We are thrilled to expand our long-standing relationship with iThera Medical to support our joint preclinical and clinical optoacoustic imaging studies, and accelerate the transfer of our research results to the clinical environment, for the benefit of patients.”

The Laboratory of Bio-Optical Imaging currently uses three optoacoustic scanners from iThera Medical to cover a wide range of preclinical and clinical studies. “We feel honored that SBIC chose iThera Medical as its preferred industry partner in the field of optoacoustics. Based on its deep scientific and technical background and strong pipeline of exciting studies, we are convinced that SBIC can play a pivotal role in supporting the clinical translation of our technologies and will continue to publish high-impact preclinical and clinical optoacoustic research,” said Mr Christian Wiest, CEO of iThera Medical.

iThera Medical develops and markets biomedical imaging systems based on a novel technology called Multispectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT). MSOT utilizes the photoacoustic effect – light energy absorbance resulting in acoustic signal emission – to visualize and quantify optical contrast in deep tissue, at high spatiotemporal resolution. MSOT allows the study of disease processes on a molecular level as well as the analysis of pharmacokinetic and biodistribution properties for new substances in biomedical research. Recently, MSOT has been translated for clinical use and promises to become a valuable diagnostic tool for a variety of diseases, including breast cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Find out more about iThera Medical at

The Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), is a leading preclinical bioimaging platform in the world. With a multidisciplinary team of biologists, physiologists, chemists, physicists, electrical/electronic engineers, computer scientists, and clinicians, SBIC investigates human diseases which are major public health issues using molecular physiology and advanced bioimaging tools, in a translational and pivotal mode with the medical community and industrial partners. SBIC also works on strategic bioimaging projects, including the development of novel imaging probes. As a national consortium, SBIC aims to harness existing imaging expertise and capabilities in Singapore, bringing together substantial strengths in the physical sciences and engineering with those in the biomedical and clinical sciences. For more information about SBIC, please visit

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