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Segasist Technologies

Fast MRI Diagnostics

A small Toronto, Ontario-based company in the medical device industry has been able to increase its edge in the market thanks to a government-funded collaboration with researchers at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

Segasist Technologies specializes in the development of segmentation solutions for medical image analysis. The company was seeking to develop technology to cut down the time needed to  segment and process medical images, which in turn could end up saving lives.

“Currently, physicians might have to process hundreds of images of a patient’s affected body tissue, for example the prostate, from various angles,” says Hamid Tizhoosh, Segasist founder and chief executive officer.

“To accurately carry out a treatment plan, for instance for radiation therapy, doctors have to locate and segment the tissue in many images and then analyze how the segmented sections in different images correspond to each other, a task called image registration. Even those with experience can’t rush this tedious process,” says Tizhoosh. 

One of Segasist’s existing technologies is a learning software that has the ability to complete tasks based on historical information. The software learns what it observes and it becomes more accurate as it is used.

Unfortunately, Segasist did not have the on-site manpower to develop a registration algorithm that could function quickly and accurately with their complex software.

They teamed up with Dr. Shahryar Rahnamayan, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at UOIT. Dr. Rahnamayan was an ideal supervisor for the project since his own research interests include machine intelligence, software design, image processing and optimization.

To cover the costs of the project, they sought out funding and were awarded with a grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through its Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) Initiative. ARC aims to accelerate innovation and improve productivity for globally competitive southwestern Ontario companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. FedDev Ontario accomplishes this by providing funding to universities so faculty and students can work directly with industry businesses on innovative projects.

“Over the course of a year, we developed a component that could reduce segmentation time from hours to mere minutes,” says Dr. Rahnamayan. “Instead of the doctor contouring all of the images, he or she could contour just a few and trust in the learning software to complete the rest.”

“The success of the project was only possible due to the collaboration of tools and resources,” continues Dr. Rahnamayan. “They needed someone to do this research and develop this component…and they share with us the hardware, software, and more importantly a comprehensive consultation time we needed to do it. The project provided our students with hands-on industry experience with algorithm development. It also gave them an opportunity to produce a journal paper and a conference paper.”

Segasist is also happy with the results of the collaboration with UOIT.

“I would definitely do it again,” said Tizhoosh. “I do not think anyone could do better in a shorter time. While the technology is not yet commercialized and needs further validation in the medical community, the algorithm works. It has the potential to make treatment faster and more accurate, which will benefit patients and medical professionals.”

For privately owned Segasist Technologies, the teamwork with UOIT has the potential to enhance its edge in the medical device industry and at the same time improve the company’s bottom line.

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