Category: Press

23 Apr 2018

Medgaget Interview: 4Dx Uses Algorithms to Better Visualize Lung Function

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects millions of people in the United States. The main method of diagnosis is the pulmonary function tests (PFTs), in which a patient breathes into a machine that measures pulmonary parameters. The disadvantage, however, is that pulmonary function tests take an “average” of a patient’s lung without being able to detect specific areas of lung function and compare them over time.

4Dx is hoping to improve that. Using principles of air flow dynamics and applying them to data from a simple X-ray, the company’s algorithms can calculate the amount of air that each area of the lung is receiving. This generates a moving, color-coded visual of a patient’s breathing lung.

4Dx CEO Andreas Fouras

The unique thing about this visual, says founder and CEO Andreas Fouras, is that it gives much more information than a traditional pulmonary function test. Physicians can easily see exactly which areas of the lungs are poorly ventilated, whether certain areas are over-compensating for poor function in other areas, and compare specific areas of lung function over time. Plus, says Fouras, the visual is an incredibly easy way for patients to understand their disease.

The technology works by using data from X-rays. The patient breathes 3-5 breaths in front of an X-ray machine, at various angles, and that data is run through an algorithm that converts the moving changes seen in the X-ray to air flow in the lungs. “We look at how the lung moves from each of the few angles,” explains Fouras, “and then we piece that together not to form a three-dimensional picture of the lung, but to form a three-dimensional picture of how the lung moves—or a 4D picture.” People think of X-rays as a method of directly identifying structures, says Fouras, but there’s actually a lot more information there.

The idea began when Fouras was pursuing his PhD at Monash University in Australia, where he helped develop imaging technology for analyzing air flow dynamics in wind tunnels. At the same time, he happened to talk with various physicians and got the idea to apply the same technology to lung imaging. Encouraged by the enthusiastic initial reactions of physicians, he began working towards developing a technology specifically for the lungs.

The research led to many grants and published research papers. “My academic career went ballistic,” he quips, as he went from new PhD to tenured professor in six years. But to successfully commercialize the technology, he had to go all in. He sold his house, moved his family to Los Angeles, and borrowed money to invest in his fledgling company. Since its official founding in 2012, 4Dx has grown to a team of thirty people.

The company is currently awaiting FDA approval, which will be decided sometime this year. In the meantime, the company is reaching out to hospitals and working with physicians to do investigational studies. “The vast majority of people we’ve spoken to have come on board,” says Fouras, a promising sign reminiscent of the enthusiasm his research generated when he was a student and professor in Australia.

The technology doesn’t have to be limited to the lungs, either. “Once you have a solid platform that has a good performance, the opportunity to spread it out across other applications is really significant,” says Fouras. “I don’t want it to be limited by my imagination.” The algorithms could be tailored for better visualizing the heart and other organs — the company even has a patent on using the technology for in vitrofertilization.

“But the thing that encourages me the most is the response I get when I talk to doctors,” says Fouras. “I see the look in their eyes, and they say something like ‘where have you been my whole career? I can’t wait to use this.’” And so above all of the excitement for the technology and its future, he says, “That’s really the most exciting thing for me.”

The original article “4Dx Uses Algorithms to Better Visualize Lung Function”, by CiCi Zhou is available at Medgaget.com.

20 Apr 2017

4Dx Preclinical Scanner Project to Rapidly Manufacture 2 Preclinical Scanner Units for Delivery in Major US Hospitals

Melbourne, Australia, 19 April 2017: 4Dx  Group “4Dx”, Hydrix Pty Ltd “Hydrix”, and Monash University are collaborating “4Dx Pre-Clinical Scanner Project consortium” to rapidly manufacture two pre-clinical scanners for delivery to two major American medical research hospitals by the end of the year. A further three units will be supplied to other world leading hospitals by the end of the 2018.

This project will deliver technology that is a world first in innovative respiratory analysis and diagnostic systems. 4Dx provides a unique 4-Dimensional perspective and expert analysis of data to clinical practitioners.  The technology results in lower costs, provides more information and faster validation of treatment with reduced radiation exposure, while also allowing for earlier detection of disease and intervention by doctors. The technology enables clinicians to capture images that effectively provide highly detailed footage of the motion and airflow within breathing lungs.

162 million respiratory diagnostic procedures are performed within the OECD each year, at a cost in excess of AU$25 billion per annum. A share of this market will create a new multi-billion-dollar industry in Victoria. This industry will see the creation of highly skilled jobs in design, engineering, software development, R&D and clinical trials in the Victorian economy.

4Dx technologies are globally unique and with strong interest from a number of major US hospitals 4Dx has the opportunity to secure a strong share of the US respiratory health clinical technology market. The technology opens up a new niche for the export of high value advanced technology manufactured in Victoria.

This innovative diagnostic was developed through research programs conducted at Monash University, with support and funding from a number of Australian and American government agencies and peak body groups.

Monash University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Enterprise) Mr Ken Sloan says, “the technology provides an enormous opportunity to impact global health and is a brilliant example of the leading role Monash University research teams are playing in world class innovation. By harnessing our leading research capability and driving government and commercial partnerships, Monash enterprise is tackling real world, high impact challenges, while also advancing economic growth.”

The approval process for clinical human use will be undertaken in conjunction with the utilisation of the pre-clinical scanning technology on small animals at US medical research hospitals. The partnership with major US hospitals to take up the clinical scanner technology will enable human clinical use in key facilities with a view to rapid global adoption of the technology.

4Dx CEO and founder Andreas Fouras says, “having these key US hospitals commit to a 4Dx scanner demonstrates their confidence in our technology and lays the foundations for the introduction of human research scanners in the near future.”

The Pre-Clinical Scanner Project is supported by the Victorian Government, with the project expected to create 56 new jobs and generate at least AU$6.7 million export revenue over the two year period. The consortium will directly co-invest $1.395 million in the project, with 4Dx committing to an additional $6.85 million investment into research and development operations in Victoria.

Hydrix Business Development Manager Paul Carboon says, “we are excited to support 4Dx in the design finalisation and assembly of the first batch of preclinical scanners. It is a great Victorian success story of technology that was created at Monash and is now being commercialised by 4Dx. This project leverages Hydrix’s significant experience in the development and commercialisation of x-ray based innovative products targeted at the Global Markets. It is fantastic to be able to secure the development and manufacturing of these products here in Victoria.”

4Dx CEO and founder Andreas Fouras also says, “4Dx envisages this project will provide a significant new advanced manufacturing, export and jobs opportunity for Victoria from what will be rapid global demand for disruptive 4Dx research and clinical technologies.”

Gaining Victorian Government funding support under the Future Industries Fund Sector Growth Program is vital to ensure the consortium is able to provide certainty to manufacture in Victoria and supply of the first two ventilator-scanner units to US research hospitals by the end of the year.

Minister for Industry and Employment, Wade Noonan says “through the Sector Growth Program, the Victorian Government is making it possible for innovative organisations such as 4DX Limited, Hydrix Pty Ltd and Monash University to undertake this ground breaking project which will improve the management of respiratory conditions.”   

19 Feb 2017

4Dx TO PUBLICLY ANNOUNCE PRELIMINARY CLINICAL TRIAL DATA AT PRESTIGIOUS WORLD LUNG IMAGING EVENT

Melbourne, Australia, 20 February, 2017: Dr. Andreas Fouras, founder and CEO of medical technology company 4Dx Limited, will present preliminary clinical data at the prestigious World Lung Imaging Workshop on the 2nd of March at the University of Pennsylvania.

The software technology developed by 4Dx provides richer information, allowing for earlier detection of respiratory related disease.  Dr. Fouras, who founded the company in 2012, says that “presenting the first 4Dx in human clinical data is a great milestone for the company and we are excited to share these results to many of the world’s leading lung imaging experts at such a prestigious event”.

4Dx technology enables clinicians to capture images that effectively visualise and quantify motion of airflow at high resolution within the breathing lungs.  Currently more than 162 million respiratory diagnostic procedures are performed each year, at a cost of $25 billion per annum.

4Dx limited currently has a range of formal engagements with some of the leading institutions across the United States and is moving rapidly towards a commercial product in the United States by 2018.

22 Nov 2016

4Dx To Close Series A Capital Raise

Melbourne, Australia, November 23, 2016: 4Dx Limited is pleased to announce that, due to an overwhelming response, as of 5pm, Friday, 9th December, 2016, the company’s $4m Series A capital round will be officially closed.

It is anticipated that the round will close oversubscribed.

4Dx founder and Chairman, Andreas Fouras, said, “4Dx is extremely pleased with the response to our capital raise. The domestic investment community has demonstrated a deep understanding of our proposition, and the value inherent in it.”

“We believe this result indicates a very clear acceptance of the need for 21st century diagnostic technology in the medical marketplace. The enthusiastic reception 4Dx has received delivers 4Dx a broad base of investors and makes us highly optimistic about the prospects of a second round of capital raising in early 2017.”

4Dx has invented a four-dimensional, non-invasive, software-based imaging technology that maps regional lung motion and air flow as the lungs breathe.

The capital round places a valuation of $36m on 4Dx Limited.

Funds from the Series A investment round will be used to take the company’s first software product to market, including clinical studies to further validate the product, as well as the development and submission of its first application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance.

The respiratory diagnostic sector represents a global market of over US$25 billion per annum, and 4Dx has a clear plan to address this market, building the company one product at a time.

The 4Dx technology has been extensively patented, with core patents granted in key jurisdictions including the US and Australia. It has been proven through published preclinical studies over the past 10 years.

 

14 Nov 2016

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR FOR MEDICAL IMAGE TECHNOLOGY

for-wordpress-14-11-2016

4Dx was featured in an article in Australias national daily newspaper, The Australian today. Andreas Fouras, Founder and CEO of 4Dx is interviewed and the article discusses the new software for imaging lung function devised by 4Dx.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR FOR MEDICAL IMAGE TECHNOLOGY

A “dream job” studying airflow through jet engines has led to an innovative lung imaging system that Professor Andreas Fouras is convinced will disrupt a $25 billion a year global industry and dramatically change healthcare outcomes.

The Australian father of five, who has relocated his family to Los Angeles to progress his venture, says he has found his opportunity to make a difference. With his team at 4DX, he has devised a new way of imaging the lungs by showing in real-time motion how air flows through them, pinpointing the areas that aren’t working well and those that are.

Professor Fouras says given the best technology for imaging the lungs is 50 years old, his innovation, which relies on computer software and four-dimensional imaging technology, is the next generation of care.

“We take X-rays of your lungs and look at how all individual parts are moving in very subtle detail with very sophisticated mathematics, which allows us to see accurately in fine detail how the air is moving through every part of the lung,” the 42-year-old says. “It gives clear insight into the trouble areas.”

A patient gets an X-ray — the X-ray machine would be used slightly different to how it is used now — and it is sent to the 4DX analysis cloud, which picks up every deficit in lung function. A detailed report is then sent back to the doctor.

Fouras initially took his mortgage to the maximum to start his company, 4DX, and later sold his house to pour every last penny he had into his new dream job.

“We are definitely on to something. 4DX is going to change healthcare globally — I’m convinced of that,” he says. Fouras says he had worked his way up the ranks at Monash University to build what he thought at that time was his dream career as a researcher, working on “fantastic” technology.

“While I was excited intellectually by the research, I wasn’t excited by the outcomes of, say, reducing drag on an aircraft by 1 per cent,” he says. “I realised that the mathematical discoveries I’d made could be useful in helping make better-informed decisions in healthcare and impact on people’s life.

So I pivoted my career down that path, and while it’s fairly common overseas, I think I’m a little bit of a trailblazer in Australia in terms of an engineer working completely in healthcare research.

“Initially it was bittersweet leaving a dream career behind but as a researcher, inventor and now a CEO, there is that common thread of ‘I’m just looking to make the world a better place through good ideas’.”

Lung diagnostics mostly relies on historic procedures. The most commonly used procedure is the pulmonary function test, which was designed in the 1860s. Then there are chest X-rays, which were developed in the 1890s, and the CT from the 1970s. “They are the mainstay of lung diagnostics and the best-case scenario is you are relying on technology that is almost 50 years old,” Fouras says.

There are 72 million lung diagnostic procedures performed in the US each year and about five million to 10 million scans per year in Australia. “All of those people are getting sub-quality information,” Fouras says. “Diseases are getting picked up later than they should, bad treatments aren’t being stopped right away and millions of people are having horrible health outcomes, or worse, dying, as a result of that.”

4DX is in the process of getting regulatory approvals and expects US support early next year. Scans using the technology are already being done in clinical trials in several hospitals in the US and Australia.

Fouras says while 4DX would remain an Australian company, he has moved its corporate headquarters to the US, given that is where the key market is. The professor says the movement in Australia to support innovation appears to be in the right direction but he says there are some zeros missing from the scale at which that movement is being proposed.

“Over the last 10 years, if you aggregate it, there have been significant cuts to the innovation budget. Any small increases proposed by the current government don’t get us back to where we were five to 10 years ago.”

His company has raised $5m and Fouras expects to reach $7m by year-end. “We have done well out of the Australian market but it took about 10 times more effort and three times longer than what it would’ve taken overseas.”

21 Sep 2016

Appointment of General Manager – Notting Hill Devices

4Dx is excited to announce that Paul Cooke will be taking on the role of General Manager of 4Dx’s specialist hardware subsidiary, Notting Hill Devices. As Paul moves into this role, he will be stepping aside from his role as Non-Executive Director, effective 1st September. During his tenure as Non-Executive Director, Paul played a key role in lifting 4Dx’s profile during our recent capital raising endeavours.

 

02 Sep 2016

Andreas Fouras, CEO of 4Dx, says backing bright people is a bright idea

Andreas Fouras, Founder and CEO of 4Dx, spoke with Nature Index on the recent call from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for public consultation on the structural review of their grant program.

m1Following criticism that current funding models are failing to support researchers across all stages of their careers, the NHMRC have opened the debate around three proposed alternative models to review research grant submissions: two based largely on funding people, as individuals or teams; and one that supports ideas.

Andreas joins the camp to support funding people, stating that the disadvantage of funding projects or ideas is that review panels struggle to evaluate projects that draw on multidisciplinary expertise, “there are no panels for research identified as belonging to ‘other’ fields, ” he says.

To read the full article click here.

 

 

25 Aug 2016

AuntMinnie.com interview 4Dx on their advanced visualization tool being used for imaging lung disease

4Dx was interviewed by AuntMinnie.com, an influential community site for radiologists and related professionals in the medical imaging industry.

In the article “Advanced visualization tool assesses lung disease”, Eric Barnes interviewed the 4Dx team on the new technique they have developed that combines fluoroscopy and advanced visualization to generate high-resolution images of the motion and airflow of lung tissue.

AuntMinnie.com2

“The patients breathe under fluoro and we can record the motion of the tissues, and from that we can quantify a number of things, like ventilation,” said Andreas Fouras, CEO and Founder of 4Dx.

4Dx uses software to segment and track the bronchial tree and estimate airflow inside that part of the body. The team explained that, assuming air inside the lung and lung tissue is incompressible, the calculated lung expansion directly represents airflow into and out of the lung regions.

Asked how the technology will be used, Andreas explained that they foresee a number of clinical applications.

“Depending on the nature of the disease, it may be easier to see the disease through an image of the ventilation, or it may be easier to see it on the airways themselves where you can see the airflow going through,” he explained. “It primarily depends on whether the disease is restrictive [affecting the tissues] or obstructive [affecting the airways].”

AuntMinnie.com1

4Dx has tested the technology in animal studies and has started performing human trials with leading Australian and US hospitals.

Andreas believes the images to be very powerful for diagnosis of common lung disease, and, more importantly, for the monitoring and follow-up of a patient as a disease progresses, or as a patient undergoes treatment.

To view the original article “Advanced visualization tool assesses lung disease”, by Eric Barnes is available to members at AuntMinnie.com.

24 Aug 2016

4Dx’s CEO talks to the Australian Financial Review about how our culture is stifling innovation

Light BulbThe AFR cover insights from last weeks meeting of 400 of the top people in the innovation sector, where Andreas Fouras, CEO of 4Dx, highlighted one of the biggest problems Australia faces as it seeks to become high tech nation.

Contrary to the risk taking the government would lead us to believe is encouraged as a nation, when researchers leave academia and attempt to commercialise their research, if it doesn’t work out, they are rarely taken back.

Taking a leap of faith to quit a career to go and build a startup is daunting enough, but as noted by Andreas, as an academic, you want to be sure.

Andreas is so convinced of the merit of his research he sold his house, quit his job and relocated his entire family to the US.
Click here to read the full article.