Queensland’s EMVision Medical Devices (ASX: EMV) has announced a year-end target for clinical trials on their portable, non-invasive brain scanner for the diagnosis and monitoring of time-sensitive neurological disorders such as stroke and traumatic brain injury.
The portable brain scanner technology, which has been close to a decade in development, is the size of an ultrasound unit and easy to use.
It has the potential to enable clinicians to make critical decisions earlier, when time matters, shortening time-to-treatment, classifying stroke subtypes and improving patient outcomes.
EMVision is now preparing the device for delivery to Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, where their clinical trial will be conducted later this year.
The trial will collect data from patients with diagnosed ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, with confirmatory CT or MRI images.
EMVision’s chief executive officer Dr Ron Weinberger said: “We are thrilled to complete our first clinical unit build and to deliver it to the Princess Alexandra Hospital shortly. The device represents a breakthrough opportunity for imaging the brain, at the point of care, in a manner otherwise not possible today. Our ICU and Neurology clinical collaborators are excited to start the trial very soon.”
Rapid decision making
EMVision’s brain scanner has been developed to provide a reliable identification of blood within the brain to facilitate rapid clinical decision making. The device comprises a lightweight headset containing an array of antennas which transmit safe, low-power, electro-magnetic signals into the brain.
Relying on differing electrical properties and contrasts between healthy and unhealthy tissue, the device’s proprietary software logs the interactions before reconstructing and displaying a 3D image of the patient’s brain on a standard laptop or tablet screen.
The device will enable carers to safely monitor stroke patients from their bedside, detect complications or secondary bleeding and track response to treatments.
In the future, a smaller hand held version of the device is expected to provide rapid stroke decision support and triage in ambulances, allowing patients to be identified and transported directly to specialist hospitals for earlier intervention and more effective treatment.
On a global scale, stroke is the second leading cause of mortality and disability with one-in-six people predicted to suffer a stroke in their lifetime. Traumatic brain injury is the most frequent cause of death and disability and the two conditions combined are estimated to have an annual economic burden of over $152 billion in the US alone.
The difference between permanent disability or death and a positive recovery for initial and recurrent strokes is timely diagnosis and treatment – the brain ages about 3.6 years in every hour that appropriate treatment is delayed.
Current access to early stroke diagnosis and treatment in Australia is considered to be poor particularly in regional and remote locations.
A stroke patient has to be transferred to a hospital or radiology clinic, which imposes delays before a diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be commenced.
Stroke-imaging technologies such as CT and MRI can provide rapid imaging; however, the units are stationary, complex and expensive.
Fixed imaging devices cannot be carried by first response paramedic teams nor can they be moved around hospital wards.
Australian Stroke Alliance
Adding to EMVision’s impressive list of development partners and collaborators, who include the University of Queensland, GE Healthcare and Keysight Technologies, the Company recently became a key commercial collaborator with the Australian Stroke Alliance.
This Alliance brings together representatives from the healthcare sector to advance portable imaging technologies to improve pre-hospital stroke care. The Alliance is currently working towards a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Stage 2 grant pledged at $50 million or more per group.
“A significant obstacle to delivering lifesaving, clot-busting medications in the field is access to accurate brain imaging which is essential for stroke diagnosis,” EMVision said at the time. “A cost-effective and portable brain imaging tool would solve this serious unmet clinical need, enabling immediate treatment in the field and definitive patient triage.”
EMVision made its ASX debut in December, following a $6 million oversubscribed initial public offering.