Diagnostics and imaging are a particular strength of BioAlps. It has a high density of universities and research institutions, hospitals and longstanding expertise in micromechanics and microtechnology.
Diagnostics are the branch of medical science that deals with diagnosis i.e. determining whether a specified disease or disease process is present in a living organism.
Tests performed on samples (for example blood, tissues or urine) taken from the body are a unique source of objective information about the body and how it functions. This information is important for clinical decision-making. Such tests may include measuring the concentrations of various chemical and biochemical components, counting cells, measuring physical properties of the sample, microscopic examination of cells and other structures or making biological cultures. These are in vitro diagnostics (IVD).
On the technology side, nanotechnology will provide huge opportunities to create new “smart” devices and technologies. Several diagnostic imaging devices have already benefited from the application of nanotechnology. Examples include contrast agents incorporating nanoparticles for greatly improved imaging. These and other new “smart” applications will bring huge benefits in terms of early diagnosis, perhaps even at the stage of initial onset of a disease, more effective treatments and therapies, better prognosis and earlier recovery of the patient.
The EPFL offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Microengineering. The institution’s Master programme in Microengineering has five orientations in Robotics and Autonomous systems, Production techniques, Biomedical Micro-engineering, Applied Photonics and Micro- and Nano-systems, and opens a wide range of career opportunities.
The University of Lausanne Faculty of Biology and Medicine’s Radiodiagnostic and Interventional Radiology department comprises experienced physicians who, teach, carry out research, and at Lausanne University Hospital, examining radiology in- and outpatients.
The University of Bern’s School of Engineering and Information Technology HTI offers graduate and postgraduate programs in Medical Technology. Student projects are all carried out with partners from industry, thus guaranteeing a very practice-oriented training. Teaching hospital Inselspital in Bern has a dynamic diagnostic, interventional and paediatric radiology institute with some 175 professionals, offering training to diagnostic radiology medical students.
The centre of expertise NCCR CO-ME is based on a collaboration within a Swiss-wide clinical and engineering network of universities, universities of applied sciences, industrial partners and industry-related foundations. The University of Bern, the EPFL and the Geneva (HUG) and Lausanne (CHUV) University Hospitals are part of NCCR CO-ME network.
Its activity incorporates the whole development spectrum ranging from basic and applied research to the transfer of enabling technologies into successful products for therapy. The NCCR CO-ME aims to understand, realise, and demonstrate the potential which information technology offers for the optimisation of medical interventions in order to improve both the treatment of individual patients and the overall health care for the whole society
The Biomedical Scanning Centre (CIBM), supported by the UNIL, UNIGE, CHUV, HUG and EPFL, opens new perspectives for life science scanning, from fundamental research to patients, and has state-of-the-art installations such as the most powerful magnetic resonance scanning (MRS) for scans of unequalled precision. Its particularity resides in the direct relationship between research and medical applications. Used partly for research and for service to patients, it is possible to confront data and share the scientific results among the sites and thus explore new frontiers.
The Biomedical Imaging Group (BIG) at the EPFL pursues research on the development of new algorithms and mathematical tools for the advanced processing of medical and biological images. Topics of interest are image reconstruction, multi-modal imaging, image analysis and visualization. Research efforts are taking place at two levels: the fundamental and mathematical aspects of imaging, and application-oriented projects in collaboration with researchers in medicine and biology.
A recently-completed EU Project called SLIC, funded within the Seventh European Framework Programme and coordinated by Ayanda Biosystems, aimed to develop new diagnostic tools that would facilitate the detection of RNA-based infectious disease pathogens for molecular diagnostics. The aim of the project was to use the SLIC Nanobiosystem, an electrical detection device, for the realisation of a miniaturized and cost-effective instrument, thereby opening new opportunities within the area of point of care application in the clinical diagnostic market.
Unilabs, once a local diagnostics lab, is today a pan-European group that supplies laboratory and radiology services to public and private healthcare providers (hospitals, outpatients clinics, GPs, occupational health units), county councils, the general public, insurance companies, to the pharmaceutical industry and CROs.
With activities in Switzerland and abroad, Unilabs spans laboratory medicine, radiology and teleradiology. Also within the diagnostics and medical technology sectors, Bracco Imaging S.p.A. based in Geneva is one of the world's leading companies in the diagnostic imaging business. Part of the Bracco Group, Bracco Imaging operates in over 80 markets worldwide.
Labodia SA is an independent distributor of diagnostic products with its own production facilities.
Knowledge of microfluidics applied to diagnostics has been well developed in the BioAlps cluster, with at least three companies developing diagnostic tools based on the technology. Diagnoswiss is developing bioanalytics based on the use of microfluidic microchips for protein analysis. This technology finds applications in medical diagnostics, research and development and industrial control. DiagnoSwiss has developed the open platforms, GRAVI™-
Cell & GRAVI™- Lab, positioned for use in life science R&D at large, bioprocess monitoring and food quality control (QC). Biocartis engages in the development of molecular diagnostics solutions for personalised medicine. Biocartis’ technology allows for flexible and efficient multiplexed analysis through the use of encoded microcarriers and specifically designed microfluidic setups.
Diagnoplex was founded in 2005 and supported by seed financing from the Novartis Forschungsstiftung, Swiss Confederation CTI project, Canton de Vaud FIT and the Gebert Rüf Stiftung. Diagnoplex discovers and optimizes biomarker combinations to detect cancers at an early stage. Leveraging their proprietary molecular platform, the company optimizes the biomarker panels in pilot clinical studies. Spinomix develops fully automated and miniaturized systems enabling extraction, manipulation and detection of biochemical substances based on leap-frog development combining advanced magnetic nanoparticles handling technology and microfluidics.