Sensor technologies

We are developing a variety of sensor technologies and systems catered to clinical needs.  One of our most versatile sensors is based on high transition-temperature superconductors. These sensors enable, for example, detection of very low concentrations of disease markers or high-precision studies of brain activity.

 

High-Tc SQUID based focal MEG

The brain is the organ that is perhaps most fundamental to our humanity and yet it remains frustratingly mysterious to even the most knowledgeable researchers and clinical practitioners. MedTech West is developing a new tool for studying the human brain that can be used to expand our understanding of it while improving diagnosis and intervention of brain diseases and pathologies.

Our high-Tc SQUIDs are a new generation of MEG sensors that improve signal-to-noise ratios and enable a more fine-grained study of brain activity when compared to the state-of-the-art in MEG. The passive and non-contact nature of the recording system makes it easier to implement than EEG. Our technology is also more than a 100 times faster than fMRI when it comes to following rapid brain signals and activity. In the future, neuroscientists will be able to safely and effectively explore new frontiers of the functioning brain while neurosurgeons will be able to treat their patients with improved interventions and higher confidence in the safety of invasive surgical interventions. Read more

High-Tc SQUID based MEGMRI

Aggressive brain diseases pose a significant challenge for doctors as the progression of the disease can alter the brain’s structure and function more rapidly than monitoring can be performed. MedTech West is developing a new system that combines functional with structural brain imaging such that doctors can perform both with one and the same system simultaneously.

Our high-Tc SQUIDs allow us to combine MEG and MRI. MEG systems yield recordings of brain activity with unmatched speed. MRI systems enable high-quality images of the brain. However, traditional MRI systems could not be combined with MEG because they operate in environments at opposite extremes in terms of magnetic field strength (MRI fields are more than a million-million times stronger than MEG). Our methods do not suffer from such a limitation because our ultra-sensitive SQUID sensors allow us to perform MRI at far weaker field strengths. In the future, researchers will use the combined imaging modality to provide a deeper understanding of the brain. Furthermore, doctors will more easily image and monitor patients suffering from aggressive brain diseases. Read more

High-Tc SQUID readout of magnetic nanoparticles

Infectious disease is responsible for roughly one quarter of deaths worldwide; it causes more than half the deaths in many third-world countries. Early diagnostics can significantly improve these numbers. MedTech West is developing a rapid high-throughput and ultra-sensitive biomolecular diagnostic tool. The system can ultimately be used by untrained personnel for disease identification and staging in a clinical setting.

Our technique is based on several cutting-edge technologies: micro-cryocooler systems, high-Tc SQUIDs, and biofunctionalized magnetic nanoparticles. Because the readout is magnetic, screening can be performed on “raw” samples including whole blood, saliva, urine, etc. We therefore eliminate the need for expensive labs and personnel required by more sensitive diagnostic techniques like ELISA. Furthermore, we obtain improved sensitivity and specificity when compared to standard rapid-screening methods like cultures and staining.  In the future, care centers will be able to identify pathogens at the earliest stages of infection, thereby improving patient outcomes and reducing transmission. Read more

High-Tc SQUID based ultra-low field MRI

Doctors cannot perform potentially life-saving medical MRIs on more than 15% of the population because of a lack of access, safety or claustrophobia issues, or simply because the subject cannot fit in a standard system. MedTech West is developing a new MRI modality that can potentially lead to cheaper, simpler, and, for some medical applications, better imaging capabilities.

We perform MR imaging with advanced high-Tc SQUIDs at a magnetic field strength that is roughly equal to that of the earth's magnetic field. Our method therefore does not require giant and expensive superconducting MRI coils. While such standard coils generate magnetic fields strong enough that metal objects become dangerous projectiles or heating centers, our system does not pose these threats to clinicians or their patients. Furthermore, our capability to record MRIs at extremely weak fields enables a new type of imaging contrast. In the future, hospitals will be able to perform life-saving contrast agent-free imaging of notoriously difficult-to-image diseases like prostate cancer. Portable ultra-low field MRI systems could also be used for bedside or even in-home imaging of patients with limited mobility. Read more