Medicine for tomorrow

How can the latest findings from materials science be used in medical practice to develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic concepts’ Empa researchers, physicians from the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen (KSSG) and scientists from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) will provide answers to these questions. Their goal is to develop the basis for novel medical technologies that will enable tailor-made therapies - the keyword being "personalized medicine". The interested public can gain insights into the research partnership at the Swiss Digital Day on 3 September in St. Gallen. Moreover, the current application for Eastern Switzerland’s participation in the Swiss Innovation Park is dedicated entirely to the opportunities and challenges of novel health care technologies.

A chest strap with textile sensors for the long-term monitoring of patients suffering from sleep apnea - a respiratory arrest during sleep; new surfaces and materials for stents and catheters that will leave no chance to dangerous hospital germs; an innovative procedure for the treatment of life-threatening blood poisoning : These are but a few examples that emerged from the partnership between researchers from Empa and physicians from the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen. The two institutions have already launched a total of 16 projects - a considerable number for the four-year cooperation. "Here in Eastern Switzerland, we benefit from very short distances," explains René Rossi, head of Empa’s Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles lab and one of the spiritual fathers of the partnership. This makes it easy to get in touch with a suitable expert - and to decide quickly which projects to pursue and which ones to skip.

The range of topics of this fledgling cooperation is extremely broad. It ranges from new treatments for psoriasis to a wound adhesive in order to accelerate the healing of injuries, from new materials for radiotherapy to nanoparticles, with which the body’s immune reaction can be specifically modulated.

Rapidly advancing digitalization plays a central role in this, too. Empa scientists recently developed a digital twin of the human skin that will enable tailor-made therapies. The aim is to have this skin avatar show how a pain or a diabetic patient needs to be treated individually. The digital twin even allows a personalized prognosis of the course of therapy. People react differently to certain treatments depending on their age, lifestyle and genetic makeup.

On Swiss Digital Day on 3 September 2019, the public will be able to see some prototypes and exhibits for themselves at Empa in St. Gallen in the form of lectures, exhibitions and lab tours. In addition, Empa scientists will be presenting the latest results from their labs on selected dates in downtown St. Gallen starting in October.

However, the three institutions are also stepping up their scientific activities: On 14 November, the conference "Digital Health - The Future is Now!", which was jointly organized by the Cantonal Hospital, Empa and the US Mayo Clinic, will take place at the Cantonal Hospital in St. Gallen. In the meantime, the Canton of St. Gallen has also finalized its application for participation in the Swiss Innovation Park, focusing on the topic of health care technologies - i.e. the partnership between Empa, the Cantonal Hospital and the University of St. Gallen. The location has also already been determined: The "Innovation Park East" is to be built in the immediate vicinity of Empa in the building of the Startup Incubator Startfeld.


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