Median prepares debut in 3D CAD market

February 7, 2005

CAD software is increasingly being heralded as the key to improving accuracy and throughput in a time-pressured digital imaging environment. Which package to choose remains open to debate. Now a new CAD provider plans to muddy the waters further with two packages it claims are best suited to the way radiologists work.

CAD software is increasingly being heralded as the key to improving accuracy and throughput in a time-pressured digital imaging environment. Which package to choose remains open to debate. Now a new CAD provider plans to muddy the waters further with two packages it claims are best suited to the way radiologists work.

CAD-Lung and CAD-Colon are designed to serve as "joint reading" tools, rendering information on the fly as radiologists make their own evaluations. This takes a different tack than most CAD tools, which tend to produce "second opinions." The shift in timing promises a more interactive use of the software within radiologists' reading routine, according to Gerard Milhiet, managing director of Median Technologies.

CAD-Lung and CAD-Colon are also workstation-independent. This fits with radiologists' preference to view images when and where they please, instead of waiting for the dedicated workstation to become available, he said.

Unlike many competing firms, Median has little interest in mammography. Its CAD-Platform, which is the cornerstone of its evolving portfolio, was built specifically to handle 3D imaging data. It therefore relies on very different algorithms from those used for 2D image analysis, such as mammography. This starting point in the 3D world will give Median an edge over companies transitioning from 2D breast CAD into the 3D market, Milhiet said.

"When we started out, we knew that our colleagues were far advanced in the detection of masses and microcalcifications for breast CAD. But we also knew that they would have a hard time going into the CT and MRI business because those modalities are completely different, from an image processing point of view," he said.

The company was founded about two years ago, following the purchase of an image analysis platform from San Francisco-based healthcare IT provider HealthCenter. Since then, Median, which is headquartered in Sophia Antipolice, France, has focused on transforming its CAD-Platform into the lung and colon products. Additional products will follow as the company builds its portfolio, according to Milhiet.

"I don't think that any of our competitors have such a platform to start with. It is multimodality, covering MRI, CT, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine, and it has been tested on multiple organs, including the liver, brain, lungs, and colon," he said.

Now the focus is shifting to commercialization. Toward that end, Median hopes to gain U.S. and European regulatory approval for CAD-Lung in the first half of 2005. Clearance for CAD-Colon is expected to follow about six months later. A partnership agreement signed last year with Sectra paves the way for Median's CAD software to be offered as an option on Sectra's PACS.

A series of clinical trials are being planned as the means to provide patient-based evaluations of the CAD-Lung and CAD-Colon packages. The trials are to be held at sites in the U.S., Germany, France, and the U.K. They will be funded out of a €4million ($5.3 million) pot that Median has raised from investors including AGF Private Equity, Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures, and Auriga Partners. The University of Chicago, one of Median's academic partners, also became a company shareholder during this round of financing.

The financing will also help speed up the marketing of CAD-Lung and CAD-Colon in the U.S. and Europe, according to Milhiet. Median is about to open a U.S.-based subsidiary to better address the U.S. CAD market. R&D will remain in France, where it has little difficulty attracting high-caliber researchers, thanks in part to the company's Côte D'Azur location.

The market for CAD-Lung and CAD-Colon would clearly be boosted if much-vaunted screening programs for lung cancer and colorectal cancer take hold. Yet the company's success does not depend entirely on screening, Milhiet said. Its products are being designed on the premise that they will become the tools of choice for radiologists seeking assistance with their standard diagnostic workup.

"We are dedicated to CAD," he said. "We can do things in a shorter amount of time, with smarter ideas, and greater flexibility. We know that with the tools we are starting with, we can be much faster than anyone."