The Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) on Thursday announced the development of a high-tech portable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, touted to be a first in India and designed to make MRI affordable and accessible for everyone.
In a press note, the foundation said the MRI scanner has a 1.5 Tesla whole body, which will produce MRI scans three to four times faster than other scanners. The scanner is compact, lightweight and consumes far less power.
The statement added that this will reduce the cost of an MRI scan significantly and will expand the scope of diseases that MRI can be used to diagnose. It will also enable the deployment of fully portable whole-body high-field MRI scanners. This system can be mounted on a truck and taken to small towns in the remotest parts of the country, for real-time imaging of patients at district level or even at primary health centres, the foundation said.
Ratan N Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts, said,
Innovation and entrepreneurship requires creativity, hard work and endurance to succeed. I am pleased that the MRI project team has demonstrated this. It also requires an enabling ecosystem to ensure that the most talented innovators are encouraged to take entrepreneurial risks and create positive social, economic and environmental impact.
MRI usually provides exquisite tissue contrast that other imaging modalities like X-ray and computed tomography (CT) cannot. However, despite its strengths, there are practical issues that limit the modality’s impact and reach.
The current state-of-the-art MRI scanners are bulky and expensive. This makes MRI unaffordable and inaccessible for a large population. Furthermore, the imaging process itself is slow and an MRI scanner’s ability to image moving organs, such as the human heart, is limited. As a result, the role of MRI in diagnosing cardiac disease, one of the top causes of death today, is inadequate.
This whole-body MRI scanner aims to address these limitations.
Voxelgrids, the company developing the MRI scanner, has been supported by FISE from its development to introduction. The project won the prestigious Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) award in 2017 while it was still under development. Bengaluru-based Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences is the clinical partner for the development, where the first system has been installed.
FISE focusses on promoting innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits that have a mission to create large-scale sustainable social, economic and environmental impact. It nurtures startups on their lab-to-market journeys and also helps them create high quality, commercially viable, accessible and affordable solutions.
FISE works along the three-tier ecosystem architecture called Social Alpha, which is focussed on catalysing entrepreneurship for impact, and provides critical technology and business incubation support to the mission-driven startups. It is a “technology business incubator” supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.