IBM & Guerbet Partner | AI for AI | Healcerion’s US

“In a sense, we are using machine learning to do machine learning.”

University of Toronto professor, Shahrokh Valaee, on a new approach his team developed that creates simulated X-ray images to help train AI systems to identify rare diseases.



The Imaging Wire


IBM and Guerbet Sign AI Partnership
IBM Watson Health and Guerbet launched a partnership to jointly develop and sell AI solutions for liver cancer diagnostics and care decision support. The companies’ first co-developed solution, called Watson Imaging Care Advisor for Liver, is a PACS-compatible diagnostic support tool that will apply artificial intelligence to CT and MRI imaging to automate a range of liver cancer detection and care processes. Watson Imaging Care Advisor for Liver and other IBM/Guerbet solutions will be a part of a larger family of IBM Watson image analytics-based decision support tools, which are apparently still forthcoming.


U of Toronto Researchers Get Intelligent
University of Toronto researchers are taking an “intelligent” approach to developing AI solutions for rare diseases that typically don’t have enough images to properly train algorithms. They’re creating their own images. The researchers are using machine learning to create computer generated X-rays to augment AI training sets, effectively “using machine learning to do machine learning.” The researchers are creating simulated X-rays of rare conditions and combining those simulated images with real X-rays so they can have a large enough image database to train the algorithm to spot these conditions in actual patient X-rays. The combined dataset improved AI classification accuracy by 20% for common conditions and 40% for rare conditions, and because the synthesized X-rays are not from actual patients, they can be shared beyond the hospital without violating patient privacy concerns. This new approach addresses two of the most significant issues with medical imaging AI, image sample size and patient privacy, and it’s pretty cool too.


Healcerion’s Smaller, Lighter, Cheaper Ultrasound
Healcerion announced the US launch of its SONON 300L handheld ultrasound, joining the three-year-old SONON C300 in the Korean company’s handheld lineup. The new system is directly targeted at personal physicians, claiming that the SONON 300L is smaller (13oz) and easier-to-use than any ultrasound on the market, and sells for 1/10th of the price of traditional ultrasounds. The wireless and battery-powered system is supported by either Android or iOS apps and connects to a tablet or smartphone to display images, while supporting both DICOM and PACS. Healcerion sees primary care environments as a major opportunity for the SONON 300L stateside, suggesting that diagnostic ultrasound use is more prevalent among PCPs in other parts of the world and the segment has room for growth in the US. Although it’s going to take more than Healcerion’s best wishes to drive handheld ultrasound adoption among US primary care providers, the handheld ultrasound segment is indeed generating strong growth (up 17% in 2017), due in part to the emergence of low-cost systems like the SONON 300L.



The Wire


  • Focused ultrasound scored a big publicity win this week, as NPR’s Morning Edition (>14m weekly listeners) dedicated nearly four minutes of the program to the use of focused ultrasound on the treatment of essential tremor, highlighting the procedure’s benefits and growing adoption. Morning Edition also gave a shout-out to Insightec’s MRI-guided focused ultrasound system, which was used to treat the patient profiled in the radio segment.
  • Coincidentally, InSightec announced that its MRI-guided focused ultrasound system gained Medicare coverage for the treatment of essential tremor in six new states (Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan and Missouri), bringing its total coverage to 16 states, and advancing it towards its 38-state target.
  • A recent report from University College London, suggesting that 1 in 3 woman could avoid breast cancer screening by undergoing genetics-based screening instead, prompted a strong editorial response from the Guardian describing “‘the horrendous psychological toll” that comes from learning one is genetically at-risk for breast cancer.
  • Onkos Surgical and Insight Medical Systems are exploring opportunities to apply Insight Medical’s still-in-development ARVIS AR system in applications for musculoskeletal oncology, initially starting with a pilot project to evaluate ARVIS’ applications for tumor surgery.
  • Caltech researchers developed a new technique, called “acoustically targeted chemogenetics” (ATAC), that may treat neurological disorders like Parkinson’s or epilepsy without surgery. ATAC combines ultrasound waves, gene therapy, and drugs to “noninvasively control specific brain regions and cell types as well as the timing of when neurons are switched on or off.”
  • Mega practice, Radiology Partners, continued its US expansion this week, announcing a new practice partnership with West Houston Radiology, one of the larger practices in Texas with 50 physicians on staff. The partnership follows RP’s previous expansions in Texas, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona since taking a $234m capital investment in March.
  • University of Oxford discovered a way to better target liposome drug delivery at cancerous tumors, using ultrasound to remotely trigger and enhance the chemotherapy in the targeted tissue, while avoiding side effects in other parts of the body.
  • Researchers in China found that adding contrast-enhanced ultrasound to traditional US could achieve better and more sensitive detection and diagnosis of breast lesions, including better differentiation of benign and malignant breast lesions.
  • Agfa HealthCare announced the installation of its Enterprise Imaging for Radiology suite at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, UK, following the expiration of Agfa’s previous Enterprise Imaging system contract at the hospital and a competitive tender process.




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