“Imaging is only useful if you’re going to alter, or potentially alter, the outcome of the patient, so if there isn’t a particular therapeutic area covered, then why develop the diagnostic?“
– Rob Johnson, managing partner and co-founder of pharmaceutical consulting firm Alacrita, about the divide between (and in some cases convergence of) the medical imaging and pharmaceutical industries.
The Imaging Wire
Water Could be the Key to MRI Cost and Size Evolution
Serendipity of science strikes again! National High Magnetic Field Laboratory researchers were testing contrast agents for an NMR magnet and inadvertently discovered a way to transform water into an effective MRI contrast agent, claiming that the new technique could lead to smaller- and lower-cost MRI machines. Performing a “fast and cheap process,” researchers polarized the protons of water hydrogen atoms, boosting magnetic properties, and creating “hyperpolarized water.” Hyperpolarized water is far more sensitive to MRI detection than standard water, potentially allowing MRIs to use much smaller and lower-cost magnets. This is one of those things that’s good overall, but may not be welcomed by everyone in the industry, especially those accustomed to current price points and players who have already developed proven MRI product designs. Good news for them is, new tech is hard to develop and hyperpolarized water-based MRIs aren’t coming anytime soon.
Piur Imaging Targets CT and MR Scanners with New 3D Tomographic Ultrasound Solution
Piur Imaging unveiled a working prototype of a new sensor-based tomographic ultrasound solution for vascular diagnostics and interventions, intended to bridge gap between 2D ultrasound and higher-cost 3D imaging modalities (CT, MR, catheter angiography). The new solution’s wireless sensor can be clipped onto any ultrasound transducer, allowing doctors to transform standard duplex ultrasound scanners into high-resolution 3D-imaging tomographic systems at a much lower price and without the ionizing radiation or contrast agents associated with current 3D options. Piur is finalizing the system’s hardware design and regulatory requirements with plans to be market-ready and certified in 2019.
A Turkey-First Medical Imaging Policy
Economic nationalism isn’t just impacting medical imaging in the US. The Turkish government announced plans to require that all medical imaging devices used in the country are also manufactured locally. The new policy will give Turkish medical imaging companies an opportunity to grow their businesses, either solo, or more likely through joint ventures with global imaging manufacturers (who are required to have 80% Turkish staff). The move will also reverse a trade imbalance, as roughly 85% of all medical imaging devices used in Turkey are imported. Policies like this are not unheard of, but they often bring unintended consequences (see US’s proposed China tariffs). It will be interesting to see how the major imaging players deal with this change.
Samsung Launches RS85 Ultrasound System
Samsung NeuroLogica announced the FDA 510(k) clearance of its RS85 premium ultrasound, expanding the high end of the vendor’s general imaging ultrasound portfolio. The RS85 launches with many of the features found in the 3.5-year old RS80A, but still touts a number of improvements including added VM-Flow (Doppler alternative for slow-flow micro vascularized structures), an enhanced monitor arm, a streamlined interface, and a 5-year warranty. Samsung launched what is believed to be the same model under the name RS85A in late March and this launch appears to simply omit the A-suffix, although there may be other differences as well.
China Develops its Own PET
The first China-developed PET system is now undergoing clinical trials, marking a milestone in a segment long-dominated by Japanese and Western countries. The new system was produced by China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Although Chinese medical imaging development has a long way to go to catch up with the industry’s global leaders, the country’s recent advancements in medical imaging technology and software is notable.
- Digital imaging and diagnostic solutions startup, NeuroVision Imaging, raised $15 million in a Series C round intended to fund validation and approval of its eye imaging system, which measures buildup of amyloid-beta protein in the retina for early Alzheimer’s detection.
- Olympus signed a co-development and distribution deal with Ai4gi that will give Olympus exclusive rights to offer Ai4gi’s colonoscopy screening and surveillance AI solution, which allows physicians to better predict polyp histology in real-time.
- According to a recent study in the JACR, musculoskeletal ultrasounds produce similar results as MRI scans, suggesting that most musculoskeletal ultrasounds do not require follow-up MRI scans.
- Wisconsin-based startup, Cubismi launched its My Virtual Body One File precision analytics system, which organizes dispersed medical images into a framework for leveraging population data and AI to create a virtual bio-map of the body and improve patient care.
- Varian Medical acquired its long-time Taiwan distributor, Cooperative CL Enterprises, with the goal of expanding its presence and service portfolio in the country, specifically expanding its clinical research and hospital collaborations.
- Penn Medicine recently performed the US’s first cardiac ablation procedure, using the AcQMap intraoperative imaging and mapping system to pinpoint the cause and locations of the patient’s atrial fibrillation and target those areas for ablation.
- Avante subsidiary, Global Medical Imaging (soon to be Avante Ultrasound), received ISO 13485:2016 certification covering sales, service, repair, technical support and parts for new and refurbished ultrasound systems.
- Median Technologies launched its new ImageBank service, supporting medical image collection and storage for Phase I oncology clinical trials, and making those images available for potential radiological assessments during or after the conclusion of clinical research.
- Blue Earth Diagnostics signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Scintomics to offer and further-develop the company’s radiohybrid prostate-specific membrane antigen agents (rhPSMA-7) for PET/CT imaging, which could potentially be used for both imaging and therapy of prostate cancer.
- A team of University of Wisconsin biomedical engineers are developing a new OCT imaging technique that could produce more precise tissue imaging data used to guide minimally invasive ablation treatments, specifically for thin and delicate areas like the esophagus.
- After a brief pause, Philips returned to its “bolt-on” acquisition strategy, expanding its Sleep & Respiratory Care portfolio with the acquisition of Dutch sleep apnea and positional snoring manufacturer NightBalance.
The Resource Wire
- Agfa whitepaper on augmented intelligence and intelligent workflows
- Caresteam video interview details Clinical Collaboration Platform success story
- Canon and Toshiba publish “New Horizons in Ultrasound” report
- Fujifilm video outlines its women’s health solutions
- GE video overview on Centricity Universal Viewer
- IBM Watson post highlights client success at The Iowa Clinic
- Konica Minolta publishes latest Kontours issue
- Olympus webinar on bringing endoscopic ultrasound to community hospitals
- Olympus video on the benefits of using CO2 in endoscopy
- Philips article highlights pediatric radiology innovations
- Philips video highlights its radiology solutions at ECR 2018
- Philips article on managing cybersecurity risks in healthcare
- Siemens video on digitalizing healthcare in radiology
- Siemens and the HBR’s perspective on transforming care delivery
- Siemens and the HBR paper on “The Power of Digitalizing Healthcare”
- Siemens video on expanding precision medicine with BioMatrix technology