Incubator company at NJIT develops lifesaving MRI coil for small animals

NEWARK, Mar 7-Supertron, a start-up technology company housed in the small business incubators at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT, announced today that it has begun developing a cryogenic coil to improve Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners.

"The new coil will be well suited for animal imaging," said Supertron President Jon T. DeVries. "Small animal models, particularly genetically engineered mice, are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for cancer researchers. This potential has not been fully realized to date due to the need to sacrifice the animal and conduct tissue and molecular analysis thereby losing out on the opportunity to observe, in vivo, the evolution of the processes under study."

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) recently awarded the company a $250,000 Springboard II grant. This money follows an earlier $2 million grant in 2003 from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) at the US Department of Commerce.

Erzhen Gao, PhD, director of research and development for the company will lead the effort. The tests will be conducted through a series of animal studies conducted at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

"Eventually, we hope to see our system upgrade existing MRI scanners because our coils can enhance installed MRIs, enabling them to produce cleaner, clearer and easier-to-read images at an affordable price," said DeVries. A medical school is testing another Supertron coil system developed for low field MRIs of the human head.

DeVries said interest in small animal imaging is growing and cited programs doing this research including the Small Animal Imaging Resource Program at the National Cancer Institute.

Coils are the receiving antenna of the radio waves emitted during an MRI scan and are essential to the MRI's operation. An MRI clinic may have as many as ten coils, each designed for specific anatomical parts (spine, he

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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