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Hand-held MRI offers future glance into imaging

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The U.S. Patent Office allowed patent claims last month on whatcould be the ultimate niche imaging device: hand-held MRI. Magnevuof Carlsbad, CA, will first approach the veterinary market withthe technology, because Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Patent Office allowed patent claims last month on whatcould be the ultimate niche imaging device: hand-held MRI. Magnevuof Carlsbad, CA, will first approach the veterinary market withthe technology, because Food and Drug Administration evaluationfor human use could take a while, according to president Dan Clark.

Clark, a former Technicare vice president and president ofthe now-defunct MPDI image processing firm, teamed up with FreemanRose, former chairman of Medstone, in developing the hand-heldMRI concept. Peter Taylor, another ex-Technicare executive, wasalso involved in the device's conception, Clark said.

Initially, the concept of using a small magnet and coil ina non-homogeneous field placed close to tissue was developed asa potential heat-monitoring technique for prostate disease therapy.It soon became clear, however, that the 7 x 7-inch MRI probe couldprovide clinically useful--albeit small field-of-view--images.

"The system has peripherals, including a keyboard andcomputer, but the technology really resides in the little probe.Inside it are the magnet, coils and antenna. All are placed closeup to the tissue that you are viewing," Clark told SCAN.The probe is attached by a wire to its computer.

The MR device will provide real-time images, equivalent inquality to those produced by standard MRI scanners, potentiallyin a private-office setting, Clark said. Magnevu intends to eventuallymarket the device using a fee-per-service program.

Two privately financed firms are behind the niche MRI effort.Magnevu was formed three years ago for the purpose of commercializingthe technology, he said. Panacea Medical Laboratory, led by Roseas president, controls the R&D side.

The two executives and a third investor own both companies.No venture capital firms are involved. Additional funds have beenraised through limited partnerships and debt, Clark said.

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