12-month co-development partnership will evaluate technology to help radiology groups make better quality measurements of MRI machines

A new partnership between PreOperative Performance and scientists at The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton (RSJH) may help to solve a long-standing challenge for international brain imaging researchers and radiologists.

Fergal Kerins, CEO of PreOperative Performance holds the company's diffusion phantom, an MRI-compatible device made of plastic and water, in his hands in a brightly lit office space.
Fergal Kerins, PreOperative Performance’s founder and CEO, holds the company’s diffusion phantom, whose modules mimic brain tissue when placed inside an MRI machine. Through the SOPHIE program, PreOperative Performance and the Research Institute of St. Joseph’s Hamilton will iterate on this technology. Their end goal is to create a device to help neuroradiologists to assess the quality and consistency of MRI diffusion imaging protocols. 

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is an MRI technology that enabled 3D visualization of the brain’s myelin coating—the fatty substance that protects neurons. Since myelin can be affected by various diseases, diffusion-based brain scans have enormous potential for diagnostics and treatment.

However, despite the emergence of DTI in the 90s, clinicians still do not have any means to assess the quality and consistency of this imaging technology—a crucial missing piece needed to use DTI for a range of neurological conditions.

“The need for tools to help medical imaging specialists perform standardized MRI diffusion-based scans is consistently top-of-mind,” says Fergal Kerins, PreOperative Performance’s founder and CEO. “Quality MRI data has the potential to open a wealth of benefits. Patients, clinicians, and the overall healthcare system would benefit from greater access to injury evaluation, neurosurgical planning, expanded diagnostic potential, and patient monitoring.”

To help address this need, PreOperative Performance is pleased to be named an Innovation Factory and Synapse Life Science Consortium-supported company, part of the Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical and Health Innovation Ecosystem (SOPHIE) program.

Participating in the SOPHIE program will help PreOperative Performance fuel a 12-month joint project with Professor Dr. Michael Noseworthy and imaging scientist Norm Konyer at The Research Institute of St. Joe’s. Through the project, their team will test and evaluate PreOperative Performance’s anisotropic diffusion phantom technology on their MRI systems. Their shared goal is to co-develop an optimized product to enable neuroradiologists to assess quality and consistency of their MRI systems’ diffusion imaging protocols, which has never been achievable in the past.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” says Sarah Howe, Executive Director of The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton. “Our support of and participation in the innovation economy is essential if we are to ensure that we are attracting and retaining our healthcare entrepreneurs. The partnership with PreOperative Performance is just one of many examples of how St. Joe’s is prioritizing innovation.”

“Accessing the SOPHIE program has allowed us to enter into this partnership with Dr. Noseworthy and his team,” says Kerins. “We’re excited to develop a tool that the field has been missing for some time. The SOPHIE community has been welcoming and we look forward to other opportunities to tap into its atmosphere of collaboration.”

About PreOperative Performance
Based in Toronto, Canada, PreOperative Performance is a seed-stage company with unique, proprietary technology that supports MR scan accuracy. Its vision is for every patient and clinician to enter treatment with the confidence that they’re working from the best-possible MR data. PreOperative Performance’s products and programs help to accelerate the rate of successful outcomes from neurological procedures.

About The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton
The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton oversees the work of over 700 researchers, staff, and learners as they carry out clinical, translational, evaluative, and fundamental research. Our researchers are helping to improve patient quality of life and the quality of care provided by health care professionals. We are an integral partner within Hamilton’s growing health innovation community, where we are working to transform the way medicine is practiced.

About the Innovation Factory’s SOPHIE Program
The Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical and Health Innovation Ecosystem (SOPHIE) program, is a catalyst for the commercialization and scale-up of innovative Ontario technologies. It was established as a partnership between the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Innovation Factory, and the Synapse Consortium. Life science companies participating in the program receive funding to accelerate their commercialization efforts, further develop their intellectual property, obtain critical clinical data, or undertake key product testing and evaluation.

For further information:

Fergal Kerins, CEO and founder, PreOperative Performance

Mike Beattie, Research Communications Manager, The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton