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MIRACLE will take towards commercialization the first mid-infrared (MIR) arthroscopy probe for in-depth evaluation of articular cartilage enabling early diagnosis of degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA).

The proposed device is intended for use during a minimally invasive surgery (arthroscopy). Currently, the surgeon's decision-making is based on visual inspection and manual probing of the cartilage tissue which is highly subjective and of poor repeatability.

Untreated or not-correctly treated joint injury will most likely progress towards OA, which will lead to joint pain, movement limitation, joint failure, and ultimately disability and joint replacement.

OA constitutes a major challenge for the health systems and affects 242 million people globally. Moreover, OA is highly prevalent in Europe with an estimated 19.7-42.3% in the elderly population.

MIRACLE concept is to access the biochemical on articular cartilage, which precedes OA. The feasibility of this approach as a diagnostic method has been demonstrated by MIRACLE consortium (TRL4).

MIRACLE has also prototyped a MIR-probe with potential use for diagnostics (TRL4). By technology development reaching TRL 6-7, MIRACLE will bring to the arthroscopy market the first MIR-based probe providing an unique, accurate and quantitative diagnostic tool for the orthopedic surgeon.

This will be achieved combining three novel photonics components:

  1. a quantum cascade laser array tailored to biodiagnostics,
  2. an on-chip beam combiner for efficient radiation coupling, and 
  3. MIR sensing probe for imaging.

These components will be integrated in a medical device to be placed in the arthroscopy market (valued at $4 billion in 2015). In addition to add value to the European medical equipment industry, MIRACLE strives towards cost reduction of OA patients (currently costs/patient/year €10,452) contributing to more affordable public health care and promoting wellbeing in the European ageing population.

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