CardioWise Hopes to Change Heart Treatment

Fayetteville startup CardioWise wants to take MRIs a step further by developing three-dimensional models of a patient's heart and, in the process, change the way cardiovascular disease is treated.

Such innovative technology, developed during the past decade by scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, was brought to Fayetteville by Virtual Incubation Co., which licensed the work of researchers Michael Pasque and Brian Cupps.

CardioWise is an Innovate Arkansas startup and VIC portfolio firm that represents the effort to commercialize the patent-pending software developed from that research.

The software, called Multi-Parametric Strain analysis (MPS), processes cardiac MRIs to provide a 3D strain map of the heart's left ventricle.

CEO Jack Coats called MPS the "single definitive gold standard for diagnosing cardiovascular disease."
The software, he said, is non-invasive, tells doctors how well a heart is pumping blood, and produces a "quantified 3D model" of a patient's heart while adding "unbiased outcome measurements" to MRI results.

Coats said MRI results are subject to the "bias" of whoever is reading and interpreting them. MPS makes imaging tests definitive by removing that potential bias while rendering unnecessary the additional testing that often results because of it, he said.

Other advantages include reliability and compatibility with virtually all MRI systems in the U.S., increased diagnostic efficiency and cost reduction.

It takes the sophisticated imaging capabilities of MRI, Coats said, and makes them better.
VIC licensed the patent, software and heart database from Wash U in 2011, and earlier this year brought in Coats to serve as CEO and renowned entrepreneur/inventor Omid Moghadam, VIC's executive vice president, to chair its board.

Coats is based in the Washington, D.C., area and serves on the boards of Vision RT of London, the advisory boards for the Center of Innovation for NanoBiotechnology in Durham, N.C., and the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association in New York.

CardioWise is actively soliciting funding rounds to begin hiring imaging experts and software developers to complete development of the MPS software and prepare it for its regulatory journey.

MPS research already has received $15 million in National Institutes of Health funding, and CardioWise has a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant pending with the National Science Foundation. In addition, it was accepted into the Arkansas Economic Development Commission's Equity Investment Incentive Program.

Coats is optimistic that CardioWise can fully develop MPS and make it available to health care providers soon. Since joining CardioWise, he's been pleased with what he has seen of the efforts to promote new ventures in Arkansas.

"The startup environment in Arkansas is very active with the formation of many new companies actively seeking funding for development of their businesses," he said. "Funding activity is fairly robust through several excellent Arkansas state funding agencies, and multiple active angel funding groups throughout the state." 

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