IT-Support of multi-centre clinical Studies on Pulmonary Ventilation

Beispielszenario einer klinischen Studie

Doctors, medical and information technology research institutes, clinical study centres and medical technology companies have come together in PneumoGRID with the goal of developing and offering Grid services for support of diagnosis and treatment of COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder]. The following services are planned to be offered through PneumoGRID:


  • Analysis and imaging of pulmonary ventilation. In addition to static lung function analysis (scintigraphy), PneumoGRID will, for the first time, allow new imaging techniques for the dynamic measurement of pulmonary ventilation to be offered (4D-MRT [Magnetic Resonance Tomography] with inhaled contrast medium, lung sound intensity measurement), which could not be offered without the Grid services, or could be offered only by institutions with large, local computing clusters.

  • Classification of ventilation images based on a validated reference database. For all pulmonary ventilation measurement procedures offered through PneumoGRID, users will have access to validated reference data for lung function classification.

  • IT support of multi-centre clinical studies on pulmonary ventilation. Data management and statistical analysis services will also be made available for multi-centre studies that use the analysis and classification services of PneumoGRID.

It is planned to implement the services as an innovation in clinical studies. Recent multi-centre studies with large quantities of distributed data soon indicated the need for Grid technologies. The services developed within the framework of PneumoGRID are to serve as “Services on Demand” and be made available to the following user groups for specific application scenarios.

Developments for medical technology and pharmaceutical companies
The Grid services are to be offered in particular to medical technology and pharmaceutical companies for performing clinical studies on the evaluation and further development of respiration devices and inhalation systems. Within the framework of a regionally-sponsored research project and together with the ActivAero GmbH company (Gemünden/Wohra, Germany), a prototype for nasal long inhalation (NLI) is being developed, which can be evaluated in PneumoGRID as a first application case in the sense of a study regarding the penetration depth of medications. Within the framework of this new development, contacts are already being established with pharmaceutical companies interested in manufacturing a long-term inhalation medication. As a marketing company and service provider occupying a threshold position between medical technology and care, IfM GmbH offers a broad range of airway and lung medical products for use at home and in clinics. The Centre for Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Marburg (out-patient diagnostics) and ASR GmbH (sleep medicine studies) are involved in the project as participants in corresponding clinical studies.

The ventilation of peripheral airways is of central importance for the efficacy of medical respiration and inhalation technology, which has created much interest in new, dynamic lung imaging procedures.
Application scenarios in this area are:

  • Studies investigating the penetration depth of medications for treating obstructive lung diseases

  • Medical sleep studies on the effectiveness of respiration devices

  • Studies investigating the effectiveness of aerosol doses with regard to improvements in pulmonary ventilation

Developments for clinical care
PneumoGRID developments are also projected to be implemented in clinical diagnostics and therapies. The Zentrum für Strahlendiagnostik [Centre for Diagnostic Radiology], as well as the Interdisziplinäre Schlafmedizinische Zentrum Hessen am Universitätklinikum Gießen und Marburg GmbH [Interdisciplinary Medical Sleep Centre of Hessen at the Giessen and Marburg University Clinic] represent the clinical care professionals within the project.
Application scenarios in this area of clinical care are:

  • Expanded/improved lung function test

  • Diagnostic support for COPD and other pneumological diseases (cluster analysis)

  • Therapy monitoring for non-invasive respiration (e.g. for serious lung diseases, muscular diseases, serious disabilities with limitation of breathing function)

  • Patient training

Developments for scientific and academic research
The Grid services developed will be available to academic research users for fundamental studies in pneumology. These user groups are represented within the project by the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Centre of Hessen at the Giessen and Marburg University Clinic, as well as other university institutes working in the area of radiology and signal processing. Gaining closer insight into fundamental research and the development of disease can lead to new diagnostic methods and therapies.
Essential application scenarios are:

  • Comparative studies of diagnostic procedures with large numbers of patients

  •  Studies regarding the development of the disease and course of therapy in COPD

  • Studies on the development of other pneumological diseases (e.g. asthma/pulmonary fibrosis)

Generic solutions for future medical user groups
The analysis and imaging services are prototypical for image-supported diagnostic procedures, forming a good basis for the implementation of similar methods. The Grid services developed within the framework of PneumoGRID for data management, study evaluation and classification are generic and also offer a Grid infrastructure for clinical studies in other areas of medicine. In particular, the planned further technological developments (audit trail, security) are a necessary prerequisite for the use of the Grid for everyday medical applications in a patient care context. PneumoGRID is therefore developing a Grid infrastructure for other user groups in medical technology, the pharmaceutical industry and patient care, beyond the specific applications described.
The services are to be offered on the basis of the D-Grid infrastructure and the basic services developed in that context by scientific partners; the developed services will finally be offered by a provider.