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NIH Awards USD 1.6 Million Grant to Subtle Medical

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 03 Oct 2019
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Image: Subtle Medical’s AI product SubtleGAD reduces the gadolinium needed during MRI exams without sacrificing diagnostic quality (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Image: Subtle Medical’s AI product SubtleGAD reduces the gadolinium needed during MRI exams without sacrificing diagnostic quality (Photo courtesy of iStock).
The National Institutes of Health {(NIH) Bethesda, MA, USA} has awarded healthcare technology company Subtle Medical (Menlo Park, CA, USA) a Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant of USD 1.6 million. The 2.5-year fast track to Phase 2 award will fund an artificial intelligence (AI) product, SubtleGAD, in development by Subtle Medical aimed at reducing gadolinium dosage needed during MRI exams using deep learning (DL). The work will lead to safer contrast-enhanced MRI.

Over 40 million MRI scans are performed annually. Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are used in approximately one-third of all MRI scans. The usage of GBCAs has been linked to the development of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). NSF can be painful, cause severe disability, and even death. The recent identification of gadolinium deposition within the brain and body has raised additional safety concerns about the usage of GBCAs. The FDA recently issued warnings about gadolinium retention following contrast-enhanced MRI and required GBCA manufacturers to conduct human and animal studies to further assess the safety of these contrast agents.

Subtle Medical, a healthcare technology company out of Stanford University, has developed a suite of deep learning solutions that enable centers to increase medical imaging speed, improve patient experience and reduce cost. Subtle's first product, SubtlePET, is the first FDA-cleared and CE-marked AI solution for medical imaging enhancement, enabling centers to enhance images from up to 4x faster PET scans. Subtle's second product, SubtleMR, currently under FDA review, was developed with the aim of faster MRI exams. SubtleGAD is the third product under development in Subtle Medical's growing portfolio of new AI technologies. The low-dose contrast-enhanced MRI method will benefit not only millions of patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) who cannot currently undergo contrast-enhanced MRI, but many more patients with normal kidney function, who are at the risk of gadolinium retention after a contrast-enhanced MRI.

"With SubtleGAD technology, hospitals and imaging centers will be able to deliver safer MRI exams without sacrificing the clinical quality of the images," said Enhao Gong, PhD, Co-founder & CEO of Subtle Medical. "We are grateful to receive NIH's support to further the development of our AI product and bring it into clinical use."

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National Institutes of Health
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