VIDEO: High-tech company based on University of Hawai‘i medical school research launches amid high interest

An early stage medical device company currently focused on motion-correction technologies for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), based on research developed by the University of Hawai‘i and its partners, announced today the successful completion of a $700,000 first round of venture financing and the resulting formal launch of KinetiCor Inc.

KinetiCor’s vision is to bring razor-sharp clarity to medical imaging. The company is initially focused on commercializing its state-of-the-art motion correction technology for MRI, invented by Thomas Ernst, a physicist at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), along with colleagues from the U.S. and Germany. This breakthrough technology enables remarkably accurate scans with correction of motion as subtle as normal breathing.

Dr. Thomas Ernst, JABSOM neuroscientist, with the motion correction microchip at The Queen's Medical Center. Photo courtesy The Queen's Medical Center.

Dr. Thomas Ernst, JABSOM neuroscientist, with the motion correction microchip at The Queen’s Medical Center. Photo courtesy The Queen’s Medical Center.

Breakthrough technology

The new technology involves a marker that is placed on the patientʻs head and allows the imaging to track and adjust to the patientʻs movement. KinetiCor’s technology is particularly useful for patients who are unable to control their movement during a scan, such as children and the elderly, and those with head trauma, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors. The technology reduces the need to sedate patients and to repeat scans. The company’s technology is currently for research purposes only and has not been cleared by the FDA for clinical use.

Investors include UHF Upside Fund, HMSA and Queen’s Development Corporation

“We are very proud to have the support of three premier Hawai‘i institutions, the University of Hawai`i Foundation’s Upside Fund, the Hawai`i Medical Service Association and the Queen’s Development Corporation, as equity investors in KinetiCor,” said Dr. Jeffrey Yu, President and CEO of KinetiCor. “We believe KinetiCor has harnessed a game-changing technology that can revolutionize the way MRIs are performed and will allow for consistent quality.”

Prior to its launch, KinetiCor licensed intellectual property developed by the University of Hawai`i, The Queen’s Medical Center, the University of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

University of Hawai`i Foundation Upside Fund Managing Director Barry Weinman said, “The UH Foundation Upside Fund was intrigued by KinetiCor, not only for its extraordinary technology, but because of the huge financial upside that could be achieved by commercializing UH’s intellectual property. More than $2 billion globally a year is wasted by having to re-do MRI scans because the patient moves and blurs the images. Dr. Ernst and the JABSOM Neuroscience and Magnetic Research Team, in collaboration with two other universities, have solved the problem of blurry images. This will not only save significant money but will enable MRI machines to be able to diagnose conditions that they can’t today.”

The MRI technology in action at The Queen's Medical Center/JABSOM Neuroscience Center. Photo courtesy of The Queen's Medical Center.

The MRI technology in action at The Queen’s Medical Center/JABSOM Neuroscience Center. Photo courtesy of The Queen’s Medical Center.

Early sales traction

KinetiCor has achieved early sales traction of its highly advanced prospective motion correction research prototypes at leading magnetic resonance research centers, including the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMRR), and Washington University in Saint Louis, in support of these institutions’ affiliation with the National Institute of Health’s Human Connectome Project. The company has numerous other world-renowned MR research centers in its research sales pipeline, and has received interest from several manufacturers of MRI systems to incorporate the company’s highly advanced motion correction technology into MR scanners.

“We are aggressively working to expand our intellectual property portfolio to further protect our market leadership position in motion correction, and recently received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office of an expanded patent. This is being further augmented by other intellectual property in development at KinetiCor,” Yu said.

University of Hawai`i President M.R.C. Greenwood said, “We are very pleased to see the strong progression and promise of a technology developed through UH research. It is validation of the importance of the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative or HI2, which seeks to double Hawai`i’s research enterprise over the next decade. This is an effort which is vital to the economic future of our state, and for which we need the support of the community.”

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