UWM Research Foundation, Medical College of Wisconsin: Grant licensing option for diagnostic software developed at UWM and MCW

MILWAUKEE – India-based AdvenioTecnoSys has licensed copyrighted software created by researchers at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) that automatically assesses digital images of the liver.

Fat is a key feature of NAFLD and may be present in other liver diseases. The new software ranks features, including fat, that appear on the medical scans, helping pathologists and other medical practitioners interpret images more quickly and with less variability.

“It’s a computational method of assessing many features on the scans from scarring, to fat deposits and even the anatomical parts of the liver itself,” says Joseph Bockhorst, UWM assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in the United States, affecting about 30% of adults. It is associated with obesity. The aggressive form of the disease may lead to cirrhosisof the liver in up to 25 percent of cases. Identifying this form of the disease earlier may help physicians better manage the disease and improve patient outcomes.The software automatically puts“white regions” on the high-definition images into seven categories with 90 percent accuracy.

Besides Bockhorst, creators of the software include Samer Gawrieh, M.D., associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at MCW, and Scott Vanderbeck, a former graduate student of Bockhorst’s, who now works at StammMedia.

“We wanted to develop a program that could provide more uniformity and reproducibility in assessing features of liver injury with the hope of improving the diagnosis and management of fatty liver disease,” said Gawrieh. “This program provides that critical assessment.”

“In the detection of fat content, our results out-performed everyone else working on this,” says Vanderbeck. Additionally, the software is the first that offers analysis of two conditions related to liver disease, inflammation and hepatocyte ballooning (liver cell death), he says.

Next, the software needs to be tested by more pathologists, which is what Advenio will pursue, says Brian Thompson, president of the UWM Research Foundation.

“We have signed a licensing option agreement with Advenio for six months so that they can further evaluate the code and look for further funding from Indo-U.S. grants for medical devices,” says Thompson. “They plan to do modifications of the algorithm that need to be incorporated with additional development to improve classification performance both in terms of sensitivity and specificity. They also hope to acquire more biopsy images to further strengthen the accuracy of the software.”

The software, which was developed with support from the UWMRF Catalyst Grants Program, can also aid in liver screening for transplants, says Gawrieh. The process for accepting a liver donation for transplant takes into consideration the amount of fat present in donor liver. Many livers that could be used for transplants are rejected if there is subjective overestimation of the amount of fat, he says.

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About AdvenioTecnoSys

AdvenioTecnoSys provides quality services and intelligent solutions for the image-processing and machine-vision communities and participates in the research & development of medical and biomedical image processing, pattern recognition, and machine learning application. Launched in 2010, Advenio is a multi-disciplinary consultancy encompassing original research, algorithm development, testing and production (http://www.adveniotecnosys.com).

About the Medical College of Wisconsin

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and service. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in the Medical College’s medical school and graduate school programs. A major national research center, it is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY 2010-11, faculty received more than $175 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which more than $161 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, College faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,200 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,350 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 400,000 patients annually.

About UWM

As Wisconsin’s premier public urban institution, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee enjoys a growing national reputation for excellence in research, teaching and community engagement. On an operating budget of $680 million, it educates about 30,000 students and is an engine of innovation for Southeastern Wisconsin. The 104-acre main campus and satellite sites are located in the economic and cultural heart of the state. The university’s recent expansion includes new academic and research facilities and the creation of the only School of Freshwater Sciences in the United States and the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health.

(CONTACTS: Jessica Silvaggi, [email protected], 414-906-4654; Maureen Mack, [email protected], 414-955-4744; and Mausumi Acharyya, AdvenioTecnoSys founder and CTO, [email protected]eniotecnosys.com.)