The Australian-based startup 4Dx is developing a new approach to lung imaging, mapping lung function in 4-dimensions. Rather than looking at details of lung structure as current imaging technologies, they look at how lungs function by targeting patterns of lungs’ motion. The technology works by acquiring X-ray images simultaneously from different directions. Using image-processing methods adapted from aerospace engineering, the movement of the lung tissue is collectively tracked from each view, and the flow of air, both in and out, is reconstructed and measured using developed algorithms.
Founded by Andreas Fouras, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Monash University, 4Dx fills critical and unmet needs in lung imaging. The technology specifically help in the early diagnosis and monitoring of debilitating respiratory diseases, including COPD, cystic fibrosis and asthma, as well as cancer. It provide invaluable information that improve treatment planning and effectiveness, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
4Dx is also targeting neonatal and pediatric settings. While current systems use scaled-down adult systems to diagnose and treat infants with lung conditions, the 4Dx technology is non-invasive and does not require patients to remain still during imaging. Although these are benefits for all patients, they are particularly important for infants and children who may often be anxious or distressed.
With current imaging tools either providing structural or functional information separately, 4DX has developed a powerful method that not only combine both, but is also able to measure function quantitatively. It provides a high performance imaging technology, without the use of contrast agents or dangerous levels of radiation, by using existing hospital x-ray imaging systems. In addition, the X-ray imaging sequence is captured in matter of seconds, potentially improving both efficiency and health outcomes. Although currently only proven in small animal models, clinical studies of the unique and non-invasive technology are underway.
The startup recently kicked off a $4 million capital raising round for the commercialization of the lung imaging technology. The capital raised will see 4Dx through the clinical trial phase in the US and Australia, and the approval process from the US FDA.