Image Analysis Technology Helps Prevent Strokes

More than 15 years of UW research to identify patients at high risk for a stroke has matured into technology now exclusively licensed to a UW start-up company, VPDiagnostics. The Seattle company received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund a multi-center clinical study to evaluate use of the technology in more than 300 patients.

MRI-PlaqueView is image-processing software that incorporates technology developed by the UW’s Vascular Imaging Laboratory (VIL). It gives researchers and clinicians an efficient tool for analyzing magnetic resonance (MR) images of plaque that can form inside arteries and is linked to heart attacks and stroke. MRI-PlaqueView provides automatic identification and 3D visualizations of plaque components not seen with other diagnostic methods. The software rapidly and accurately summarizes key findings and images in a format easily shared among radiologists, cardiologists, and surgeons. The NIH-funded clinical trial is the first prospective study to evaluate the clinical use of MR direct atherosclerosis imaging analysis for stroke prediction.

“This powerful tool will enable researchers to study the progression of atherosclerosis in patients and their response to treatment,” said Chun Yuan, UW Professor of Radiology and Co-Director of the VIL.

MRI-PlaqueView should also enhance stroke prevention efforts, save lives, and help reduce the annual $60 billion in stroke-related health care and economic costs. VPDiagnostics licensed the technology from the UW in 2007. It received FDA clearance in late 2008 and is now commercially available. The UW Centerfor Commercialization, VPDiagnostics, and VIL continue to work in close partnership on research, clinical studies, and commercialization efforts.

“The UW Center for Commercialization was instrumental in licensing this technology,” commented Hui Hu, President and CEO of VPDiagnostics. “Too often research knowledge from a University is not converted into commercially available tools and therapies because the researchers don’t know how to validate their technology. Alan Yen with the UW Center for Commercialization made it a seamless process by finding early Beta testers and structuring agreements that allowed the market to be built around early adopters.”