Professor Ernst W. Otten of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, is one of the winner of the international award of the Körber Foundation for European Science. He made a major contribution to the development of helium-3, which is highly useful in pulmonary diagnostics.
Ready for market launch in three to four years
Professor Otten, what are the challenges of your method?
Otten: First, it is important, and complicated, to produce large quantities of helium with a high degree of polarization. Each patient has to inhale a liter of helium-3 for a tomographic examination. Second, you have to delay the decay time of the helium-3 magnetization because of the transport to clinics, and this is where the iron-free glass containers from SCHOTT play an important role.
How do SCHOTT’s helium flasks help alleviate this problem?
Otten: Specialists fabricated the first flasks last year and have since continuously improved them. Thanks to these flasks, we have ultimately achieved a helium polarization “life span” of some 50 hours and can produce some 50 to 100 liters of polarized helium-3 per day.
Is the new method already in clinical use?
Otten: We are pursuing medical registration and already supply three clinics in Mainz, Sheffield and Copenhagen, where, as part of a trial, patients are being examined using this method.