TRACER provides the technology and expertise to develop and validate novel, (non-)invasive, detection techniques and therapeutics for diagnosis and monitoring of bacterial infections by optical, nuclear and optoacoustic molecular imaging technologies using bacteria-targeted fluorescent tracers or therapeutic compounds. Moreover, by fluorescent or nuclear labelling of innovative anti-bacterial therapeutic compounds, the pharmacokinetic, whole body biodistribution and microscopic tissue distribution for on- and off-target delivery of the labelled compound of interest can be provided for early go / no-go decision-making .
Osteosynthetic devices (ODs) for fracture fixation have become indispensible in modern trauma and orthopedic care. In the USA and Europe, ~5 million ODs are implanted annually. About 5% of these become infected despite antimicrobial prophylaxis. There is currently no fast, reliable (non-)invasive imaging technology for real-time and early-stage detection of bacterial infections. There are, however, promising innovations in the fields of clinical fluorescence imaging (e.g. multispectral normalized imaging, MSNI) and optoacoustic imaging (e.g. multispectral optoacoustic tomography, MSOT). These involve non-invasive imaging techniques to monitor in real-time the accumulation of suitable tracers through tissue up to 5 cm deep. In case of bacteria present on ODs or other biomaterials, such techniques would add to the bed-side ‘diagnostic-toolbox’ of clinicians to support a quick and accurate diagnosis. TRACER provides four separate experimental stages for the development and evaluation of a bench-to-bedside technique to detect bacteria in case of infected ODs: I, optical tracer development and synthesis; II, an in vitro stage (i.e. bench); III, a translational in vivo animal study; and IV, a clinical feasibility study (i.e. bedside).
TRACER’s unique clinical translational approach has the potential to drastically change the ways in which clinicians diagnose and monitor treatment in bacterial infections on a day-to-day basis. They will lead to a significant cost reduction in health care (about € 2-3 billion annually) by preventing revision surgery and unnecessary antibiotic treatment and by shortening hospital admissions. TRACER provides multinational, multidisciplinary, translational project management which combines expert knowledge and resources for the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents for efficient market-introduction and dissemination to combat major bacterial infections.