Mickaël Tanter and his partner Mathias Fink have been working for thirty years around medical imaging and ultrasound therapy. In particular, they have developed, with their team, an ultra-fast ultrasound machine – 10,000 images per second against 50 in general – which improves cancer diagnoses, breast and liver in particular. An invention that reduces the need for biopsies.
It is for this work that the Breton physicist, originally from Paimpol (Côtes-d’Armor) is selected among 15 finalists for the European Inventor Prize, whose final is scheduled for June 17. He could also get a second prize thanks to the public vote, possible on this site.
50% fewer biopsies
In his work, Mickaël Tanter, research director at INSERM, relied on palpation, widely used by physicians for disease detection. The palpation that the physicist seeks to replace: “What we wanted to do with Mathias Fink is to find a method to map the hardness of the tissues in a much more scientific way than a simple intuitive palpation of the doctor.“, he explains. So they used shear waves to set up their project. “You can see them when you tap a little on the surface of your stomach, and to see them inside the body, we had to invent a super fast ultrasound machine.“, specifies the Breton.
It is this step that halves the number of biopsies, especially for breast cancer. “You do a standard ultrasound and at one point the device goes into super fast mode and, at the same time, will palpate inside the body. We have a much more relevant diagnosis“, he adds.
Companies created for the benefit of research
The Breton physicist did not choose his work at random, he dreamed of becoming a doctor. “It’s a way of combining my two passions“, he smiles. Today, his laboratory, composed entirely of physicists, is working on tools for doctors, in the field of cancer diagnostics, but also neurosciences, cardiology and cardiovascular diseases. “Using ultrasound waves, we will try to diagnose, detect or treat diseases from a distance with surgery without opening the patient“, he explains.
Mickaël Tanter has also developed several companies to carry out its research. “We absolutely wanted the research done in the laboratory to be useful in the everyday world and to have a real impact in the lives of patients..”