By Chris Mueller, Cosmitto Digital
ChemImage is a Pittsburgh-based molecular chemical imaging company striving to address important, unmet needs in a variety of market segments, including health care, corrections, law enforcement and defense. CI is bringing to each of these markets a common technology platform built around proprietary electro-optic filters, empowered by artificial intelligence algorithms, and software. Molecular chemical imaging, in essence, is the use of light to identify objects or materials that normally aren’t visible to the naked eye by harnessing the spectral signature of the object of interest. So, with its breakthrough imaging technology, ChemImage collects that information, analyzes it, and then provides the results to physicians and safety and security professionals in a concise, clear and accessible fashion unlike ever before.
It was more than 25 years ago when ChemImage Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Patrick Treado, Ph.D. first began pursuing ChemImage’s revolutionary mission. The research problems Treado was trying to solve were difficult. “We were trying to use light to measure disease, but none of the ecosystem to make that practical existed at that time,” he said. “The idea was real. It should’ve been possible to measure disease states, but all of the tools necessary to make it work in a way that was helpful to clinicians didn’t exist.”
ChemImage’s efforts to develop an innovative spectroscopy platform have turned Treado’s research mission into vision. The 115-person company, as a whole, holds more than 190 patents for applications in detecting explosives, chemicals and narcotics, as well as advanced visualization and cancer detection during surgeries and diagnostic procedures. Treado expects to receive FDA approval for surgical visualization tools in <3 years, which will be an important milestone for the maturation of ChemImage and its Life Sciences products. Another innovation, CardioVere, a tool to measure and quantify edema in heart failure patients is currently in early stage human testing and moving with pace towards clinical and commercial maturation.
So now, after 25 years developing advanced visualization solutions to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, ChemImage can finally let there be light.
“We developed tools to solve very complicated problems, but if you can solve those problems, you can harness the power of light to make measurements that allow clinicians to understand and manage disease,” said Treado. “Our other applications of the technology are good vehicles to de-risk technology so we can solve important health roadblocks.”
For example, let’s say a clinician is treating a patient for colorectal cancer. In order to surgically remove the cancer, that surgeon must identify and differentiate the tumor from other tissue structures, extract the cancerous cells and then precisely stitch the tissue back together to maintain its viability. The process is meticulous in nature with the potential to go awry.
ChemImage’s technology alleviates some of those immense challenges by helping surgeons to identify veins, nerves, arteries, tumor location and more. Most importantly, molecular imaging removes the need to rely on contrast agents or dyes for visualization, which can be harmful to the human body, make surgery more complicated and higher in cost.
“Advanced visualization for endoscopy is a pretty signifi cant part of the portfolio,” said Treado. “But, we’re also very much involved in heart health monitoring. Specifically, CardioVere is an optical device to quantitatively and non-invasively assess the level of edema for congestive heart failure patients by measuring reflectance of water molecules just below the skin.”
The impact of ChemImage’s molecular imaging extends beyond the medical field, though. It is also utilized as a mail screening method in correctional facilities to detect the presence of opioids in otherwise hard-to-detect environments. Thirdly, it can provide military, law enforcement and security personnel with the capability to detect explosives, chemicals and narcotics in a variety of environments. “ChemImage is about making the world a healthier and safer place,” said Treado.