Remote imager to provide disease data

A remotely operated X-ray set-up that promises diagnoses of infectious respiratory diseases for millions in developing countries may also provide data for the discoverers and developers of drugs to cure such diseases. The device is called Remi-d, and it's the product of efforts by the not-for-profit World Health Imaging, Telemedicine and Informatics Alliance (WHITIA); Merge Healthcare, a radiology workflow solutions provider; and Spanish manufacturer SEDECAL.

The goal is to deploy Remi-d worldwide, says Ivy Walker, CEO at WHITIA, providing the means for health screenings for those who may otherwise have no timely diagnosis. The system is still being tweaked, but was demonstrated at the Radiological Society of North America show last week. Field testing will follow, and the system will then be submitted for regulatory approval.

The data collected by Remi-d, often from areas where radiologists and technologists are scarce, may also help provide early warnings of disease outbreak. "Beyond just the remote imaging in developing countries, we'll see conditions and variations not seen in the developed world," says Walker, in an interview. "Especially with tuberculosis--there are more drug-resistant strains emerging. We see where it's popping up."

Although at this early stage of development no programs yet exist for making Remi-d data available for drug discovery, they are "absolutely" on the WHITIA agenda, Walker says. "We're working on a protocol to collect information. There's currently little consistency across diagnoses of tuberculosis; little sharing of data. Hope to share with public health authorities and the World Health Organization. We would provide the platform technology to do that."

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