Welcome to Hemics
|Hemics is a medical device company active in the field of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). We aim at improving the quality of life of patients with RA by creating imaging devices that support the rheumatologist in monitoring and treatment of this disease.
Our devices are based on the patented Optical Inflammation Detection technology, a non-invasive, fast and objective method that supports rheumatologists in the quantification of inflammation, a key parameter in the treatment of patients with RA.
Hemics was founded as a spin-out of Royal Philips Electronics, where the Optical Inflammation Detection technology was invented.
In early Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), caregivers use tight control and treat-to-target to reach disease remission as soon as possible. This reduces the progression of irreversible tissue damage at later stages and leads to significantly improved patient outcomes compared to the traditional care process. Systematic monitoring of disease activity is becoming increasingly important in early and established RA, as the aim shifts towards optimal medication levels and tapering medication when possible. Hemics' HandScan is the only non-invasive optical imaging technology that supports the rheumatologist in objective inflammation assessment. With the HandScan, it only takes several minutes to visualize the inflammation levels in the joints of hands and wrists. The device is safe, easy to use in day-to-day care and can be used as frequently as needed for tight control treatment of RA. The scanner can be operated by doctors, nurses and any other trained staff. The HandScan is connectable to the Hospital Information System and can integrate with a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS).
Inflammation of tissue is characterized by: redness, swelling and increased temperature which are all caused by vascular changes including vasodilation (widening) and increased permeability (leakage) of blood vessels.
Although easy to recognize, it is difficult to quantify the level of inflammation. Our patented Optical Inflammation Detection technology supports the physician in establishing the level of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients by quantifying the hemodynamic response to an applied stimulus. A pressure cuff around the lower arm is inflated for a short period of time to modify the blood flow in the hands. The venous backflow is hindered whereas the arterial flow continues, resulting in the pooling of blood in the hands. Due to the vascular changes associated with inflammation, the speed and magnitude of blood pooling is different for inflamed and healthy tissue.
|The process of blood pooling is measured by diffuse optical transmission. The hands of a patient are illuminated with red/near-infrared light and the transmitted light is detected by a camera on the other side of the patient’s hands. Since blood is a strong absorber in the red/near-infrared region of the spectrum, pooling of blood will result in a decrease of the transmitted light.
A patient scan
The patient inserts his or her hands through a cylindrical opening that holds the pressure cuff and places his or her hands on a glass handrest. When the operator has verified correct hand placement and the patient is in a comfortable position the lid is closed and the hand illumination is turned on. The patient's hands are illuminated by a light source which is positioned below the handrest. Two imaging camera's are placed to record the changing transmission of light through the hands over time.
A complete measurement consists of three phases. During the first phase the baseline transmission is recorded without cuff pressure. In phase two the cuff pressure is applied to measure the increase in blood volume. During the last phase the pressure is released to measure the decrease in blood volume. The whole measurement takes less than 1.5 minutes.
From the local transmission profile a 2D image is created ,representing the vascular response, which is presented to the rheumatologist, together with underlying and historic patient data.
The Optical Inflammation Detection technology supports the rheumatologist in objectively assessing the RA disease activity in a fast, safe, painless and operator independent way.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of joints. While any joint can be affected, the small joints in the hands and feet are involved more frequently than others., RA afflicts between 0.5% and 1% of the population worldwide, of these approximately 75% are women. The disease most often begins between the ages of 40 and 50, however, RA can develop at any age.
RA is a progressive disease with currently no cure, making the disease a chronic condition. RA is associated with regular flare ups causing pain, stiffness and swelling and if left untreated these will cause irreversible joint damage and ultimately severe joint deformation and disability.
The treatment of RA is staged. Initially the patient receives low-cost anti-inflammatory drugs. If this treatment becomes ineffective, different and more advanced drugs (e.g. biologics, like anti-TNF antibodies) are employed. Treatment is to be guided by monitoring of disease activity, and if done adequately (frequent and reliable), irreversible joint damage can be prevented and discomfort due to the disease and drug side effects can be limited. As such monitoring of disease activity will not only improve the quality of life of RA patients but will also help to reduce the overall treatment costs which is important given the chronic nature of RA and the high costs of the biologics.
Esther Spanjer - Managing director and Clinical research specialist
Luca Wisse - Service engineer
Jan-Paul van Loon - Manager QA/RA
Hemics started as a LabVenture within Philips Research. After realization of a clinical prototype and a successful clinical trial, the venture raised sufficient money for a spin-out of Philips on September 1st 2011. From the end of 2018 Hemics is part of the DEMCON holding.
- Wolkorte R, Heesink L, Kip M, et al. Monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis: a patient survey on disease insight and possible added value of an innovative inflammation monitoring device. Rheumatology int. 2022; 42:1565-1572
- Verhoeven MMA, Westgeest AAA, Schwarting A, et al. Development and validation of rheumatoid arthritis disease activity indices including HandScan (optical spectral transmission) scores. Arthritis Care & Research.2021 Mar 26doi: 10.1002/acr.24607
- Besselink NJ, van der Meijde P, Rensen WHJ, et al. Optical spectral transmission to assess inflammation in hand and wrist joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2018;57(5):865-872
- Onna, M. van, Cate D.F. ten, Tsoi, K.L., et al. Assessment of Disease Activity in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis using Optical Spectral Transmission Measurements, a Non-Invasive Operator-Independent Imaging Technique. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.2016;75:511–518
- Nair, S.C., Welsing, P.M.J., Jacobs, J.W.G., Laar, J.M. van, Rensen, W.H.J., Ardine de Wit, G., Bijlsma, J.W.J. , Lafeber, F.P.J.G. Economic evaluation of tight control treatment strategy using an imaging device (HandScan) for monitoring inflammation in early rheumatoid arthritis, Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.2015;33(6):831-838