This Imaging And Robotic Platform Plans To Revolutionize Healthcare
Though magnetic resonance imaging—or popularly known as MRI—is widely accepted as the most accurate method of screening and treatment guidance, the current standard of MRI machines is fairly impractical. Expensive to acquire and maintain, requiring dedicated facility upgrades, and limited by extensive safety constraints and robotics compatibility issues, conventional MRI machines are available to use only at select locations. This leads to long waiting lists for patients, which is much more than a mere inconvenience; in the case of cancer, early detection is critical to improving the chances of recovery.
Sensing the need, Promaxo—a medical technology company—plans to enter the space to transform the field of MRI for disease screening and intervention.
Founded in 2016 by Dr Amit Vohra, Promaxo has developed a portable MRI device capable of achieving the same results as conventional MRI machines at the fraction of the cost and with increased ease-of-use and patient comfort. Promaxo’s MRI is designed to be used in a standard physician’s office, without the need for extensive safety procedures or a dedicated infrastructure for housing and maintaining the unit.
In addition, Promaxo has successfully scaled down the MRI machine. The company is also developing a robotic system which enables needle-guided interventions directly under live MR image guidance, in OR settings or even in a physician’s office.
Conventional MRI machines, usually, are constructed in such a way that no intervention can take place during a scan. The MRI results are therefore used merely as a reference when planning the procedure, rather than as a live preview, as it were. This MRI machine, meanwhile, is compatible with conventional robotics, opening up a range of possibilities for live MRI-guided interventions, including biopsies, treatment planning, robotic surgeries, radiation therapy, ablative treatments and drug delivery.
To date, Promaxo has raised more than $15 million in dilutive funding, and the underlying technology has been awarded over $9 million in NSF and NIH grants. Currently, the company plans to raise $40 million in Series B funding, with a view to use the capital for a clinical and commercial launch of the MRI system in the US and further development of artificial intelligence and robotic systems compatible with the MRI scanner.
A Major Improvement All Around
The transformation of MRI technology has the potential to completely redefine the standard of care in the field of medical imaging and, eventually, beyond. The advancements made by Promaxo in the area of MRI for screening and treatment have a range of advantages for both patients and healthcare providers.
The most important, underlying implication of the introduction of the Promaxo MRI is that it would render MRI screening more efficient, increasing the availability of the technology to all patients and directly improving outcomes. In the US, there are currently less than 40 MRI machines for every million of the population, leading to long queues for a scan that could be highly time-sensitive.
Promaxo’s MRI devices claim not only to be cheaper and easier to purchase and maintain than standard machines, and this could potentially increase in the number of scanners available in the country, in quick time. Rather than necessitating the patient travelling between sites to access a machine and return for a consultation, the scan can be performed straight away, without the need to leave the physician’s office.
The company also claims that this machine gives a comfortable experience to patients during the scan. Unlike conventional MRI scanners, Promaxo’s device doesn’t require the patient to enter a loud, claustrophobic space in order to undergo the scan.
From a healthcare provider’s perspective, the Promaxo MRI provides a potential for an attractive return on investment, especially when compared with the rates involved in operating a conventional MRI scanner. This device doesn’t require additional investments in the form of facility modifications and the implementation of complex protocols, enabling providers to improve patient outcomes without the need for a substantial increase in spending.
As the portable MRI device waits for FDA clearance, the company in the meanwhile is developing the aforementioned intervention platforms compatible with the scanner, all while gathering data for machine learning needed for AI functionality.
Promaxo’s follow-on products include intervention devices, involving a robotic guidance platform with astonishingly accurate needle placement and an AI-powered tissue classification system. All of these will be safe to use in the presence of the Promaxo MRI magnetic field.
Ultimately, by combining all of these products into one compact system, claims to be set to redefine the standard of care by providing a comprehensive solution to in-office disease diagnosis and treatment, with an initial focus on prostate disease. A Promaxo system includes the Promaxo Office MRI device with AI-enabled imaging and pre-programmed sequences specific to prostate screening, the Promaxo Biopsy Robot for office-based biopsies and tissue characterization, and eventually a Therapeutic Platform compatible with robotic therapy and capable of delivering radiation treatments and ablation. In short, the system will cover the entire process, from screening and diagnosis to treatment.
Even so, transforming prostate disease management is just the beginning, according to statements by Promaxo. Once the company’s solutions have been implemented in the field of urology, Promaxo plans on expanding its focus to breast oncology, sports medicine, orthopedics, and neurology.
Promaxo’s MRI system is due for clinical launch later this year, with a commercial launch and sales following in 2021.