A noninvasive method for tissue stiffness quantification in small animals with shear wave elastography

Period of Performance: 09/05/2017 - 09/19/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

SonoVol, LLC
Principal Investigator


Abstract Liver fibrosis, a hallmark of many liver diseases, affects millions of people in America every year, and annually kills tens of thousands of these patients. Despite very active research efforts, there still have been no specific antifibrotic drugs approved by the FDA. The liver disease and drug development communities do not currently have well-validated, low-cost, easy to use, noninvasive tools for studying liver fibrosis in preclinical rodent models making it challenging to execute high-quality longitudinal studies. To address this need, SonoVol Inc. proposes to develop a novel benchtop imaging system capable of providing rapid, noninvasive measurements of liver fibrosis in rodents with robotically-controlled shear wave elasticity imaging (SWEI). In SWEI, ultrasound pulses are used to generate shear waves in an organ an interest, and tissue stiffness can be inferred by monitoring the speed of the travelling waves. SWEI technology has been very successful in clinical trials and is starting to be adopted by abdominal radiology clinics around the world as a replacement for liver biopsy. While some preclinical SWEI products exist on the market today, all of them follow the conventional ultrasound paradigm of data collection ? a trained sonographer uses a handheld probe and manually selects regions of interest to interrogate with SWEI. Making consistent and accurate measurements requires in depth knowledge of probe placement and sonographic technique, which academic biologists or drug researchers are unlikely to possess. Therefore, SonoVol will develop a device capable of fully-automated, non-contact SWEI that eliminates the need for a trained sonographer and will enable large scale adoption of this powerful technology in the preclinical liver diseases research community. To validate the new system, two different animal models for hepatic fibrosis will be evaluated, and the results compared to conventional postmortem assessments of liver fibrosis. This technology represents an innovative combination of a widefield 3D robotic ultrasound imaging system and noninvasive shear wave elastography. Furthermore, the technology can be applied in the future to many other diseases, including cancer or cardiac models, increasing the potential market and impact on the field.