License Puts Rochester Technology in 80 percent of U.S. Ultrasound Market
An ultrasound image-sharpening technology developed at the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound (RCBU) at the University of Rochester has been licensed to General Electric Company, the world's largest producer of ultrasound equipment.
Now that General Electric joins Royal Philips Electronics, Siemens, and others as a licensee of the technology, 80 percent of the U.S. ultrasound manufacturing will now use the RCBU innovation. The Tucson-based company Research Corporation Technologies (RCT) manages the technology for the University, and continues its efforts to license the technology broadly to the ultrasound industry.
The technology, called tissue harmonic imaging, exploits the different ways ultrasound frequencies travel through tissue, revealing once-hidden structures within. With the technology, doctors can utilize dramatically sharper ultrasound images, such as when screening for breast cancer or cardiac imaging, regardless of the kind of tissue being examined.
"I feel both fortunate and gratified to have been able to help develop an improved medical imaging technique," says Ted Christopher, a former doctoral student and research scientist at the RCBU, and principle inventor of the technology. "The prospect of providing clearer biomedical ultrasound images keeps drawing me back to the research. Such practical innovation is very rewarding."
"We are delighted to see Dr. Christopher's work come to fruition by improving diagnostic ultrasound imaging," says Diane Dalecki, director of the RCBU. "His work builds on a 40-year legacy at Rochester in nonlinear acoustics, starting with the work of Professor David Blackstock in the 1960s."
Traditional ultrasonic imagers emit short high-frequency sound pulses and build images from the echoes they receive. The new technology builds its images by taking advantage of a special distortion that arises as the pulse moves through tissue. Higher-frequency pulses could in theory provide clearer pictures, but tissue tends to deform their shorter wavelengths.
After four years of research, Christopher discovered that higher-frequency signals were being generated by distortion inside the tissue in such a way that it could create a much clearer image of living tissue than had ever been done. He published his findings in IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics in 1997.
The Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound was created in 1986 to unite professionals from both the medical and engineering communities. The center provides a unique environment where professionals can join together to investigate the use of very high frequency sound waves in medical diagnosis and therapy. Current projects include 3D-imaging, sonoelastography, contrast agents, nonlinear acoustics, ultrasound and MRI fusion, ultrasound therapies, bioeffects, and other areas.
RCT is a technology investment and management company that provides early-stage funding and development for promising biomedical companies and technologies from universities and research institutions worldwide.