A €1.1M grant was awarded to a UK-Poland consortium to develop a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-based medical device for children with liver disease.
One in five children in Europe suffer from fatty liver disease, but clinical symptoms only surface at later stages when treatment options are limited. Early detection would have a massive impact on how this disease is managed, but the current diagnostic is a painful, invasive biopsy.
“Liver biopsy is important for making diagnosis of various liver diseases and is frequently used in follow up to make decisions on therapy,” said Professor Piotr Socha, from the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw. “We try to decrease indications for liver biopsy in children because it can cause complications and needs sedation and anesthesia.”
LiverMultiScan uses a painless, 15-minute MRI scan which characterizes liver tissue. Analysis is based on assessment of native properties of liver tissue, accurate measurement of liver fat and other metrics. Developed by Perspectum Diagnostics in Oxford, UK, this test already has regulatory clearance for use in adults to aid physicians in diagnosing early liver disease.
“We know so little about pediatric liver diseases and their natural history because, until now, we have been limited in our ability to diagnose and follow these children up,” said Dr. Rajarshi Banerjee, CEO of Perspectum. “MRI is safe, easy to perform and communicate to patients and families with clear images, and will help us find and treat the thousands of children in Europe who currently only get diagnosed late, if at all, because of the need for liver biopsy.”
Supported by funding from EUREKA/Eurostars, the Kids4LIFe consortium will develop and validate LiverMultiScan specifically for patients under 16. In a clinical trial, children who would normally undergo liver biopsy as part of their usual care will also be offered a LiverMultiScan. The information gathered from this study will help the consortium understand how and when the technology is best used in the diagnosis of pediatric liver disease.
As part of the project, a cloud-based health data management system will be developed by the Polish telemedicine company Silvermedia. This platform will allow rapid transfer of liver scans, as well as other health information and diagnostic test results, between local pediatricians and experts in other cities and countries.