ESCOPE completed tens of millions of A round of financing, the investors did not disclose, the funds for product clinical trials and new product development. ESCOPE is committed to the research and development of imaging diagnosis and treatment of heart and brain diseases. Its innovative CT-FFR technology has made the diagnosis of coronary heart disease from invasive DSA angiography to non-invasive CT-FFR examination, which makes coronary heart disease diagnosis more convenient. Precision.
After winning a master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Tsinghua University, Zhang Chao chose to study abroad and pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. “At that time, our lab’s main project was a heart-related project. We were responsible for the simulation and judgment of hemodynamics and function of the heart and coronary vessels based on CT images.” In addition to research, Zhang Chao and experimentation The team gradually learned about the status of industrialization in this field. At that time, in the United States, HeartFlow, a relatively mature product technology company, has launched the first generation of CT-FFR products for the diagnosis of coronary heart disease.
Scientific research and industrialization are not isolated. During his Ph.D. and US work, Zhang Chao and his team discovered the inadequacies of HeartFlow’s first-generation CT-FFR products and tried to improve them. “But we didn’t have the idea of starting a business at that time, just use it as a result of scientific research.” Zhang Chao recalled. After working in the United States for two years, Zhang Chao gradually precipitated the idea of returning to China for business. “CT-FFR technology has an excellent application prospect in the field of coronary heart disease diagnosis. The market layout of HeartFlow has not been extended to China. I think this is a very Good opportunity.” In October 2017, Zhang Chao co-founded ESCOPE with two other founders.
Pulse shadow: coronary CT-FFR, automatic, high-precision coronary heart disease auxiliary diagnosis and treatment platform
According to the “China Cardiovascular Disease Report 2018” compiled by the National Cardiovascular Center, the number of patients with coronary heart disease reached 11 million, and the mortality rate of coronary heart disease continued to rise since 2012. At present, the diagnosis of coronary heart disease is based on coronary angiography showing that the stenosis is 50% or more. However, more and more clinical evidence shows that it is not reliable to rely solely on the degree of stenosis to determine whether there is ischemia in the myocardium.
At present, the diagnosis methods of coronary heart disease include DSA angiography (digital subtraction angiography), CT angiography (CT angiography/CTA), and FFR (coronary blood flow reserve fraction) measurement. Among them, only CT angiography is a non-invasive method, and the operation method is simple and safe. However, due to the occasional artifacts, the image may cause deviations. Although DSA angiography accurately judges the shape of blood vessels, it is an invasive procedure that is expensive and impossible to use. Obtaining the index of functional judgment; FFR measurement refers to the ratio of the maximum blood flow of the blood vessel to the maximum blood flow that can be obtained when there is no stenosis in the presence of a stenotic lesion in the coronary artery. It is a pressure guidewire through invasive surgery. Sent to the stenotic lesions, measured after adenosine injection. When the FFR is less than 0.75, it is suggested that the stenosis causes a blood flow disorder at the distal end of the blood vessel.
At present, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) have adjusted the FFR examination to the “A grade” (highest grade) and “IA grade (highest grade)” stable coronary heart disease diagnosis basis, and recommend FFR (blood reserve score) was performed before cardiac intervention or surgery in patients with coronary heart disease. FFR has become a recognized gold standard for evaluating whether coronary artery stenosis causes hemodynamic disorders (functional ischemia). However, the technology is complicated to operate and has high technical barriers, which has not yet been popularized in China.
With the development of image processing technology and computational fluid dynamics, no invasive surgery is required. It is a reality to calculate FFR values only by CT angiography model reconstruction and hemodynamic simulation. CT-FFR has both non-invasive and simple coronary CTA detection. Safety and FFR values measure the advantages of high accuracy in detecting coronary heart disease. “The reason why coronary heart disease has a high mortality rate is because there is no non-invasive, convenient and fast test gold standard. Patients can’t pay attention to their own coronary blood vessel health in real time, so they can’t find the abnormal body and seek medical treatment in time.” Zhang Chao said. The first product independently developed by ESCOPE, Pulse Shadow is a coronary CT-assisted coronary heart disease diagnosis and treatment software based on the latest CT-FFR technology to achieve high-precision diagnosis of coronary heart disease.
CT-FFR technology mainly includes CT imaging, graphic modeling, blood dynamic simulation and other processes. Pulse shadow is the latest CT-FFR technology independently developed by ESCOPE. The original CT-FFR technology of HeartFlow has been greatly improved, mainly in Three aspects: 1. High precision of graphic image processing. In terms of algorithm accuracy, the pulse precision is above 90%, while HeartFlow’s data is less than 90%. In addition, HeartFlow’s CT-FFR technology has gray area. That is, when the FFR value is between 0.75 and 0.80, the accuracy of the CT-FFR measurement will be greatly reduced, causing an error. Pulse shadow solves the problem that CT-FFR has errors in the gray area. 2, fully automated processing, no human-computer interaction. 3, second-level blood dynamics simulation solver, fast and efficient. The blood-dynamic simulation solver of the pulse shadow can calculate the second-order coronary artery. The whole process takes only about 5 minutes for each patient, while the HeartFlow treatment time is about three hours.
In addition, in terms of price, patients use CTA and pulse shadow for coronary examination, the total price will not exceed 2,000 RMB, and DSA angiography costs more than 4,000, if the surgery uses special medical equipment, such as a specific balloon. , catheters, stents, etc., the price may be higher.
A team of multinational scientists teamed up to deepen medical image data and carefully create new technologies and products
Referring to the formation of the core team, Zhang Chao used a sentence to describe: “Challenging the stone of other mountains, the precise division of the field.” ESCOPE’s team business has a clear division of labor, mainly divided into four technical modules, namely: medical graphics Image processing, artificial intelligence, hemodynamic simulation (biological simulation), and data mining. The company’s chief scientist is from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and has in-depth research in the fields of blood vessel segmentation, liver segmentation, tumor segmentation and other medical image processing and artificial intelligence graphic image processing. More cutting-edge, in terms of computational simulation, the company has developed a unique ultra-efficient computational simulation solution platform that can achieve fast fluid simulation technology for millions of computational grids using a single machine (GPU acceleration). At the same time, the company has senior engineers from COMAC, and was once an important research and development member of China’s new generation of large passenger aircraft CR929, and CR929’s core technology FEA (Finite Element Analysis and other technologies) can also be used for blood vessel walls, hearts, chambers. , heart valve, plaque simulation. In addition, the team members include several seniors from Johns Hopkins University, Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, University of Missouri, Artificial Intelligence, Mechanical Engineering in Ghent University, Belgium.
Based on a solid core team and complete core technology such as graphic modeling, artificial intelligence, and fully automated blood dynamics simulation, ESCOPE has been rapidly developed to introduce the latest CT-FFR technology products. “Our team’s graphics processing technology has solved the problem of inaccurate CT angiography modeling, reduced the error of image information, and improved the diagnostic value of CT imaging.” Zhang Chao said. The company’s fully automated blood dynamics simulation technology is not limited to pulse imaging applications, but can be extended to many other products. For example, ESCOPE has independently developed the DSA contrast FFRDSA technology based on DSA angiography and has entered the pre-experimental phase. The company is also developing other CT-FFR technology related derivatives.
It is understood that ESCOPE has successfully held the first seminar, and the pulse has also passed the national inspection report, entered the pre-clinical stage, and was put into use in the top three hospitals such as Fuwai and Anzhen. In terms of product promotion, Zhang Chao said that Pulse Shadow Software has different modules such as post-morphology processing, functional judgment, data mining, etc., by splitting and promoting these modules, in the form of offline workstations and software modules, the Department of Cardiology Doctors offer relatively flexible customization services.
At present, ESCOPE is conducting B-round financing. At the same time, the company is also seeking cooperation between hospitals and medical device manufacturers to integrate Pulse and other related products into the clinical diagnosis process to jointly promote the development of medical imaging functional diagnostic technology.