DeVa requires minimal changes to the clinical workflow and works with any existing MRI machine
How It Works
A person experiencing back pain goes to see their GP or a spine surgeon.
Back pain is the second largest cause of disease burden in Australia according to the Australian Government. More than 4 million Australians suffer back pain each year and the cost is estimated to be many billions of dollars. Despite this in 90% of cases doctors cannot find any cause or make a diagnosis of where the pain is coming from.
Existing MRI techniques often show changes in the spine but these do not match well with patient symptoms. Using current techniques many people with back pain have normal scans and many people with "abnormal" findings are completely pain free.
This is a frustration our team of scientists, medical doctors and back pain sufferers know well.
In 2018 we began working using computer simulations informed by the best possible understanding of what changes are seen in degenerate discs at a chemical and cellular level to design a better method specifically for diagnosing disc degeneration.
This technique has been tested on animals and outperforms the main techniques currently used in clinical practice and research studies.
Our work has been presented internationally at scientific conferences, and won prestigious Australian and international awards.
Animal and laboratory testing is now complete and research using the technique in humans began in 2019.
Our team believes in transparency and scientific peer-review. We have published our animal results, scanner settings and our algorithm publicly here:
ANNOUNCEMENT OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING - JULY 2020
Health Minister Awards Merunova more than $970,000 to Improve the Diagnosis of Back Pain
Merunova welcomes the announcement today by the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt of more than $970,000 to accelerate the development of our next generation spine imaging technology for Australians with back pain.
Merunova Co-Founders Dr Ashish Diwan and Dr Kyle Sheldrick (pictured below) described the funding through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) BioMedTech Horizon (BMTH) program operated by MTPConnect, as “a game changer and an investment in the future of Australians suffering from back pain”.
Dr Kyle Sheldrick said some of the effects of this grant will be to “further refine the MRI scanning process and cut down the time patients spend in the MRI scanner” and to “open research studies to patients in Australia sooner” with a target of “providing answers to back pain sufferers and selecting the best treatment for each person”.
Dr Ashish Diwan described the BMTH grant as “a massive win for back pain sufferers”. He said, “patients who have back pain often suffer in silence”. He said, “this funding is tremendous news for Merunova, and will significantly accelerate our path towards clinical diagnosis availability and helping more patients”. Further “every dollar from this grant will be spent in Australia, creating and supporting local high-skill medical, technical and research jobs and increasing our capacity to be internationally competitive”.
Merunova’s technology improved accuracy in diagnosing spinal disc degeneration from 70% to 97% in a study published in JOR Spine. The technology underpinning this grant was developed at SpineLabs, based at the St George Hospital, University of New South Wales.
One in six Australians suffer from back pain each year, with more than 100,000 presenting to hospital emergency departments. Backpain is the second leading cause of disease burden in Australia, second only to heart disease. Healthcare for backpain sufferers costs $3 billion per year in Australia, with estimates of economic costs even larger again.
The Merunova head office is based in Kogarah, a suburb in South Sydney NSW, within the George’s River Council’s Health, Education and Innovation Precinct (HEIP).
Dr Diwan said, “the commitment of George’s River Council to supporting cutting-edge high-tech medical and scientific industry gave us the confidence to plan our clinical studies, engage partners and set up our business in the area.”