HiPerNav will train early stage researchers (biomedical engineers and medical doctors) to become international leading in key areas of expertise through a novel coordinated plan of individual research projects addressing specific bottlenecks in soft tissue navigation for improved treatment of cancer. The multi-disciplinary dialogue and work between clinicians and biomedical engineers is crucial to address these bottlenecks. By providing researchers with knowledge and training within specific topics from minimally invasive treatment, biomedical engineering, research methodologies, innovation and entrepreneurship, the link between academic research and industry will be strengthened. Therefore, allowing an easy transfer of the most promising results from the different research projects to commercially exploitable solutions. The global image guided surgery devices market was valued at USD 2.76 billion in 2013 and is projected to expand at a 1 CAGR of 6.4 % from 2014 to 2022 to reach USD 4.80 billion in 2022. The market for soft-tissue navigation however still is in its infancy, mainly due to challenges in achieved accuracy for targeting deformable and moving organs. By providing multi-disciplinary training, the researchers in this consortium of international leading research institutions, universities and industry will initiate true translational research from academic theoretical ideas all the way to the clinical testing of prototype developed solutions and tools.
The specific clinical problem in HiPerNav is primary liver cancer, which consists predominantly of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the third most common cause of cancer mortality. The liver is also a frequent target of metastases from other cancer origins, like colorectal, with an estimated 100,000 liver metastases in Europe annually. Liver resection is the treatment of choice in selected patients with hepatic colorectal metastases, even in recurrent cases, with 5 year survival rates of up to 58 %. A successful surgical resection of HCC requires complete removal of the tumour including a safety margin while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. However, due to technical and clinical difficulties currently only a relatively low percentage of patients are eligible for resection, and the recurrence rate is considerable. In conclusion, there is an urgent need to increase the patient eligibility and improve the survival prognosis after liver interventions (resection or ablation).