It can strike anyone: rheumatism occurs just as often as diabetes, arteriosclerosis and cancer combined. Approximately one percent of the population is stricken with the rheumatoid arthritis. Mostly it begins with initial inflammation in the finger joints. If it is discovered in time and a treatment is begun, the chances are good that the dreaded joint damage can be averted.
Now scientists at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Berlin Institute, in a cooperation project with several partners, have developed such an early detection method. Their optical imaging method for rheumatism works with a fluorescent dye which is stimulated by near-infrared light and is absolutely harmless. With this method, centres of rheumatism can be detected at an earlier stage than is possible with an X-ray apparatus and is less expensive than a magnetic resonance tomograph.
Following the promising results of a clinical preliminary study still ongoing, the Berlin medical technology company "mivenion" acquired licensing rights from PTB in order to prepare a larger study. Also, the statutory health insurance companies have already shown interest in the imaging method, which should make rheumatism diagnostics and treatment distinctly more cost effective – particularly as a new, specific rheumatism contrast medium could in future improve it still another step.
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