UW News

May 4, 2006

UW licenses innovative cardiovascular software to VPDiagnostics

News and Information

University of Washington TechTransfer announced today it has licensed a computer-aided cardiovascular analysis system to VPDiagnostics, Inc., a Washington state firm.

The license agreement covers a suite of programs that recognize artery and plaque types, and by analyzing MRI images, automatically generate a quantitative report and three-dimensional rendering of the artery and associated plaque components. The programs are as accurate in analyzing MRI data as highly trained radiologists but analyze MRI data much faster. UW researchers are investigating how the quantity and types of plaque present may be used to evaluate patient risk of heart attack and stroke.

“This technology will help clinicians efficiently and accurately identify ‘vulnerable’ plaque, which is linked to heart attack and stroke. It will also provide researchers with a powerful tool to study the progression of atherosclerosis in humans and its reaction to treatment,” said UW Radiology Professor Chun Yuan.

The announcement of the license agreement coincides with the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) conference today, May 4, in Seattle and the launch of UW Radiology’s new 3 Tesla MRI machine located at the Biomolecular Imaging Center at South Lake Union in Seattle. A tour of the facility by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias Zerhouni and a symposium featuring internationally recognized MRI experts will mark the dedication of the new center, where novel imaging techniques for both human and animal models will be developed to study cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

VPDiagnostics acquired the technology from Pathway MRI, a medical device company specializing in cardiovascular solutions for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pathway MRI originally licensed the technology from the UW last summer while participating in a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) collaboration with UW Assistant Professor William Kerwin, a member of the UW’s Vascular Imaging Laboratory.

The world-renowned team at the Vascular Imaging Laboratory created the state-of-the-art program, named CASCADE (Computer-Aided System for Cardiovascular Disease Evaluation). CASCADE will be an important clinical tool for assessing cardiovascular disease and determining treatment, providing information beyond simple narrowing (stenosis) of the arteries, such as the size and stability of the plaque itself.

Yuan and Thomas Hatsukami, a UW vascular surgeon, co-direct the Vascular Imaging Lab. Yuan has researched and pioneered multiple high-resolution MRI techniques for imaging carotid artery plaques. Hatsukami and Kerwin, an image processing expert, collaborated on the project, and radiology fellows Fei Liu and Dongxiang Xu completed the programming.

The CASCADE project was funded by the NIH through the SBIR program. Phase II was funded with a $1 million grant to Pathway MRI. VPDiagnostics has inherited the project and will exhibit this technology and product at the ISMRM conference next week.

The UW’s Department of Radiology is a leader in commercialization of imaging techniques with over a dozen active technologies. The Vascular Imaging Lab studies the use of high- resolution imaging techniques to identify the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease.

UW TechTransfer facilitates the commercialization of new innovations arising from University of Washington research through the management and licensing of intellectual property rights.


For additional information, contact Chris Reimann, UW TechTransfer, 206-543-9852, creimann@u.washington.edu.