Oct. 18, 2017 — GREENVILLE, N.C. — RFPi Inc. has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study new clinical applications of its proprietary and patent-protected platform imaging technology.

A mid-stage startup company, RFPi is pioneering breakthrough medical imaging technologies to improve surgical outcomes, enhance patient care, and reduce health-care costs and hospital readmissions.

RFPi’s Multi-Spectral Physiologic Visualization (MSPV) technology uses low-energy lasers, high-speed imaging cameras and proprietary analysis techniques and flow-calculation algorithms to deliver real-time visualization and quantification of blood flow and perfusion — without the need for injections of dye, radiation or the need for direct patient contact.

The $224,869 grant from NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will be used to study patient point-of-care applications of the MSPV platform.

RFPi’s Chief Medical Officer T. Bruce Ferguson, MD, said the study’s hypothesis is that the MSPV platform can be configured for tissue-specific blood flow and perfusion data collection and analyses — in hopes of validating the medical accuracy of certain physiological status parameters inherent in the imaging data. To do this, scientists will examine light energy-tissue interactions to configure this application of MSPV for specific tissues and seek to validate physiological status parameters for accuracy.

RFPi’s scientists then intend to design a portable, hand-held device so that MPSV can be performed at any place of patient care — an advancement for which scientists would seek additional grant funding.

For example, Ferguson said, MSPV could monitor with medical accuracy a patient’s basic cardiovascular parameters — the heart’s electrical activity, heart rate, blood pressure and tissue oxygen saturation — at the point of care without touching the patient, and then transmit that information to other health-care providers.

The implications of such uses are substantial, he said, especially in trauma-care situations.

“The theoretical advantages of such a device for the military are two-fold,” he said. “The first is to improve the efficiency of the medical corpsman handling casualties in the field who doesn’t have time to take a patient’s blood pressure every three minutes using a cuff and stethoscope. The second is for health-care providers back at the military hospital waiting to receive those casualties –they’d be getting real-time information trended over time; therapeutic algorithms based on these trended data could be utilized. And in emergency medical situations, trending data is much more significant in terms of prognosis than individual data points. Similar opportunities exist in civilian trauma settings as well.”

The grant funding is administered under the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, also known as America’s Seed Fund. It is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States. The program allows U.S.-owned and U.S-operated small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has a strong potential for commercialization. In the 2017 fiscal year, NIH’s small business programs will invest nearly $1 billion into domestic health and life-science companies creating innovative technologies that align with the NIH’s mission to improve health and save lives.

RFPi’s technology was invented in 2010 at East Carolina University by a team of cardiovascular medicine, optical physics and engineering experts. Development has included bench-top and experimental studies, and clinical proof-of-concept and validation studies. The ECU team continues to work closely with RFPi to commercialize these paradigm-changing medical imaging applications and devices.

Earlier this year, RFPi submitted a 510(k) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for its first commercial product, the iCertainty™ platform for two-dimensional imaging of blood flow distribution (flow and perfusion) in tissues.