UCLA, AI startup sign license agreement for MRI analysis tech

Under a license agreement, software developed by UCLA researchers that leverages machine learning to interpret spine MRIs will be integrated into picture archiving and communication systems and electronic health records.

UCLA signed the license agreement with Theseus AI, a Los Angeles-based startup created to commercialize the technology, which was developed to provide objective measurements of spinal stenosis from MRIs.

The goal of the venture is to provide radiologists, surgeons and primary care physicians with accurate and consistent identification and measurement of key features of the spine.

"Providing clinicians with more objective data to support their decision-making will ultimately lead to better identification of candidates for surgical treatments and better outcomes," says Luke Macyszyn, MD, a neurosurgeon at the UCLA Spine Center who co-developed the software suite and who leads Theseus AI.

The research to train the machine learning algorithm—funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the UCLA Innovation Fund—was led by Macyszyn and Bilwaj Gaonkar, a postdoctoral researcher in bioengineering.

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Earlier this year, Gaonkar and Macyszyn—along with other colleagues—wrote a paper on their research that was published in the RSNA journal Radiology: Artificial Intelligence. The machine learning study, which utilized an electronic health record and imaging archive, was able to delineate lumbar neural foramina autonomously and measure their areas in a large asymptomatic population.

UCLA Technology Development Group, which manages the university's intellectual property portfolio and its Innovation Fund, brokered the agreement with Theseus AI, whose mission as a startup is to analyze “millions of medical images and historical results” to improve the identification, consistency and accuracy of anatomical measurements that deliver “more objective data and treatment recommendations” to clinicians.

“The agreement with Theseus AI further validates our model of leveraging internal funding to bridge the gap between academia and external interest,” says Thomas Lipkin, director of the Innovation Fund and new ventures at the UCLA Technology Development Group. “This was one of several projects from the UCLA Innovation Fund that we believe can be successfully commercialized to advance medical care."

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