Home > Projects > Cancer > Musis    
Cardiovascular diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases
Infection and immunity
Translational Research IT (TraIT)

Intra-operative Multi-Spectral Imaging Systems for Radical Tumor Resection (MUSIS)
Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. C.W.G.M. Löwik (Leiden University Medical Center)
CTMM Program manager: Eric Caldenhoven
Non-invasive imaging technologies such as CT, MRI and PET mean that cancer can be detected much earlier, allowing tumors to be removed either by open surgery or minimally-invasive techniques such as endoscopy or laparoscopy. During such operations, it is of paramount importance that tumors are removed completely (radically) with sufficient tumor-free margin. However, clinical discrimination between tumor and normal tissue remains difficult during an operation, making non-radical resection (resections in which the resection margin still contains tumor cells) a serious clinical problem. The identification of lymph node metastases also remains problematic during an operation.
Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging, in which fluorescent molecules are coupled to antibodies or drug molecules that specifically bind to tumor tissue, offers a potential solution to this problem by allowing real-time visualization of tumor tissue and lymph node metastases. The MUSIS project aims to develop new technologies that will enable rapid implementation of intra-operative NIRF imaging of tumor tissue in surgical oncology. It will do so by developing the following:
1) tumor-specific NIRF probes based on existing tumor-directed antibodies or drugs that recognize up-regulated tumor receptors or membrane markers to which a non-toxic NIRF dye can be coupled.
2) sensitive NIRF camera systems that are capable of detecting these probes during surgical operations.

Professor Lowik - Clemens Lowik.jpg

Prof. Dr. C.W.G.M. Löwik:
“The MUSIS project represents a highly multi-disciplinary research effort that will bring near-infrared optical imaging into the clinic for image guided cancer surgery. It is a unique collaboration in the Netherlands between leading scientists, technical universities, companies and surgeons, and has the potential to revolutionize surgical oncology by providing surgeons with a real-time fluorescence-based tumor imaging technique to guide surgery for radical resection of tumor tissue and identification of sentinel nodes. By allowing highly tailored surgical treatment, it could significantly improve cancer survival rates.”
Prof. Dr. Clemens Löwik is Professor of Molecular Endocrinology and Molecular Imaging at the Leiden University Medical Center. After graduating cum laude as a biologist at Nijmegen University, he finished his Ph.D at Leiden University in 1987. Since 1992 he has worked in the Department of Endocrinology at Leiden University and in 2006 was awarded a full professorship. His research focuses on developing new therapies for bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and bone metastasis. Within his research he is developing non-invasive molecular imaging technologies based on optical imaging to follow a variety of cellular and molecular processes including tumor progression and metastasis. Within Europe, he is one of the pioneers in this technology. He is one of the founder members and the current vice president of the European Society of Molecular Imaging (ESMI).
Industrial partners
  • ARA (Antibodies for Research Applications BV)
  • Quest Medical Imaging 
  • Luminostix BV 
  • Percuros BV
  • Westburg BV
Academic partners
  • Erasmus Medisch Centrum (EMC)
  • Leids Universitair Centrum (LUMC)
  • Nederlands Kanker Instituut (NKI-AVL)
  • Technische Universiteit Delft (TU Delft)


Status of the Musis project end of 2009: PDF (download)
Watch the video about the MUSIS and VOLTA projects: click here (film is in Dutch)
In response to the first call for project proposals in 2007, the Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM) announced on April 1, 2008, that nine first-call projects would receive research funding amounting to a total of 150 million Euro. On March 10, 2009, it announced that eight new project proposals, submitted in the fall of 2008 in response to the second call for proposals, will receive funding amounting to a total of almost another 100 million Euro.
All Dutch university medical centers, plus several universities, a broad spectrum of small and medium-sized enterprises, major industry leaders including Philips and DSM, and the Dutch Government are involved.
The funding is provided by the Dutch government, industry and academia. The research is focused firmly on the ‘translational’ aspects of molecular medicine so that results can be applied as quickly as possible to actual patient care.
Musis is one of the projects from the second call with a total project budget of 9.2 M€, of which the Dutch government contributes 4.6 M€.
Societal benefits and healthcare savings
The improved surgical accuracy provided by NIRF imaging could be applied in a variety of patient groups, benefitting survival rates and quality of life.
In breast conserving surgery to treat breast cancer, the additional cost of NIRF imaging is more than outweighed by the reduced cost of secondary surgery. For sentinel lymph node removal, NIRF imaging costs are less than the cost of currently used imaging procedures that employ radioactive tracers.
In breast cancer care, NIRF imaging therefore increases QUALYs (quality-adjusted life years) and reduce costs.
Expected revenues: EUR 645 million in surgical oncology markets. Job creation in the Netherlands within 5 years: 50 in manufacturing, 15 in sales, 10 in business overhead.
3 April 2013




© CTMM, Center for Translational Molecular Medicine | Contact | Login | Disclaimer