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Shanghai Shines as Collaborative Biomedical Industry Hub

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2024-06-11 14:03:41 | Author: XIE Manbin, LIU Chun and ZHONG Jianli


A staff member introduces a medical robot jointly developed by doctors of Ruijin Hospital and a medical company for restoring patients' lower limbs on May 24 in Shanghai. (PHOTO: XINHUA)

By XIE Manbin, LIU Chun and ZHONG Jianli


The biomedical industry, one of Shanghai's leading industries, has emerged as a vital force in implementing its innovation-driven development strategy. After 30 years of progress, the city has cemented its position as a global hub for biomedical technology innovation and industrial development.

Collaborative innovation

At the exhibition hall of the United Imaging Group (UIG) in Jiading district, Shanghai, the world's first two-meter Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT) medical equipment draws visitors' attention.

"This equipment boasts a two-meter scanning field of view and can complete a full-body scan in just 30 seconds," UIG Chairman Xue Min said, adding that the machine's sensitivity is 40 times higher than that of traditional PET-CT scanners, while the radiation doses during scans are only 1/40th of those produced by conventional devices.

How has UIG developed this advanced equipment? Xue said in early 2021, the company signed a framework agreement with Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission to advance basic research including applied basic research, initiating the Explorer Program.

"The Explorer Program has facilitated close collaboration between us and UIG," said Professor Lai Xiaochun from Shanghai University of Science and Technology.

Lai said their joint applied basic research project aimed to develop a photon counting spectral CT detector, capable of capturing clearer "color photos" of the human body, regarded as a significant technological breakthrough in CT imaging in recent years.

The rapid growth of UIG exemplifies the development of biomedical enterprises in Shanghai. According to official data, in 2023, Shanghai's biomedical industry was worth 933.7 billion RMB. Between 2019 and 2023, a total of 30 innovative medical devices were approved, accounting for one-fifth of the country's total.

Medical experts join hands with industry

In the Innovation Center of Ruijin Hospital affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, a surgical robot delicately shells a quail egg with its mechanical arms.

This single-hole laparoscopic surgical robot was developed by Shurui Medical Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Xu Kai, founder of the company and a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said it can operate instruments inserted into a patient's abdominal wall through a skin incision less than three centimeters, and perform complex surgical operations in limited spaces.

Xu acknowledged that the surgical robot was developed based on feedback from surgeons at Ruijin Hospital. More practical products can be developed only through close collaboration with hospitals to understand their needs, he stressed.

Ning Guang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Ruijin Hospital, said that frontline medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, who better know the "unmet needs" in the medical field, should play an essential role in medical industry innovation.

In Shanghai, many innovation projects are initiated by medical professionals. The city is seeking collaboration between the medical and industrial sectors, including "doctor + engineer" partnerships, to develop new models for innovative medical device industry development.

Editor: 钟建丽

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