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UniServices Signs Cardiac Software Deal

UniServices Signs Cardiac Software Deal With Siemens

Auckland, April 8, 2002 – Auckland UniServices Limited announced today that it has entered into a multi-million licensing and collaboration agreement with Siemens AG, one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, which will result in novel imaging software developed by researchers at The University of Auckland being incorporated in Siemens cardiac technology worldwide.

Confirming that the deal had been signed at Siemens headquarters in Erlangen, Germany, Johanna Stapelberg, Intellectual Property Manager for UniServices, said: “This new technology has the potential to help people suffering from heart problems and reaffirms the capability of university-led research.”

Jointly developed by Dr Brett Cowan, a clinician, and Dr Alistair Young, an engineer, at the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Cardiac Image Modeller (CIM) software greatly improves the speed and ease of accurate diagnosis by rendering conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan data in a simple, user-friendly interface.

“Over recent years clinicians have been increasingly keen to use MRI for cardiac diagnosis, but the problem has been the sheer complexity of the way the information is conveyed. Now, with CIM, instead of being confronted by 300-400 two-dimensional images, a clinician sees a single 3D model of the heart, using colourful graphics, that is intuitively easy to use,” Dr Cowan said.

The key indicators needed to assess a patient were the size of the left ventricle and the rate at which it pumps blood, Dr Cowan said.

“Ultrasound scans give images quickly, but can miss information. Conversely, conventional MRI scans give precise data, but are not widely used for cardiac diagnoses as they produce several “slices” of the heart at many time-points that are difficult and time-consuming to interpret. “

“We worked on new ways of analysing the MRI images,“ Dr Young said. “CIM allowed us to mould hundreds of MRI images into a single model for easy, fast and accurate calculation of ventricle size and blood flow. The potential applications are very significant.”

The team began work on the project five years ago. Dr Cowan said its success was the result of combining several different areas of expertise. “We had to integrate engineering, mathematical modelling, medicine, clinical practise and user interface design.”

Dr Chris Occleshaw, at the Centre of Interventional Radiology, Green Lane Hospital, contributed to the development of the software by testing its functionality in a clinical setting.

Dr Occleshaw said that CIM was also of special value in diagnosing children and other patients with congenital heart disorders as, in addition to giving speedy left ventricle data, it provided accurate information about the right ventricle – often implicated in congenital disorders – which existing technology had particular difficulty in providing information about.

The CIM technology was patented in 1999. Johanna Stapelberg said Siemens finalised an option agreement in February 2001, and the company had subsequently been so impressed with CIM that they decided to incorporate it into their own Argus software package for worldwide distribution.

Under the agreement, New Zealand researchers would continue to provide technical expertise in completing Siemens’ product development, she said.

“In negotiating this deal UniServices has again been able to draw on the world-class research resources of The University of Auckland. We are delighted that we will retain significant local value through an ongoing consulting and collaboration agreement with Siemens.”

Welcoming the deal, Siemens´ cardiac MR applications development manager, Dr Christine Lorenz, said: “Due to the integration of the powerful 3D visualisation of CIM into Argus the physician will have an intuitive way to interact with cardiac MRI derived heart function data. CIM will assist the physician to quickly confirm accuracy of the automatically determined parameters, further reducing time to diagnosis”.

CIM has the ability to read DICOM format images and to render the images as slices in 3D space registered to one another. Mathematical models of the left or right ventricle can be constructed and the result rendered in 3D with the original images. The program is written in C and C++ making use of the OpenInventor API for graphical display.

Auckland UniServices Limited
Auckland UniServices Limited is New Zealand’s leading knowledge and technology transfer company, linking industry to the resources and skills of The University of Auckland.
UniServices is wholly owned by The University of Auckland. It manages the University’s commercial research contracts, owns and commercialises its intellectual property estate, and forms new companies based around the University’s intellectual property.

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