Startups

Cranial software tech startup PediaMetrix just nabbed $1.93M from the NIH

The company received the funding through a Fast-Track Small Business Award to help develop SoftSpot3D, the new iteration of its pediatric software.

The SoftSpot app.

(Courtesy image)

A little less than a year after earning certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pediatric software company PediaMetrix has scored a huge boost in funding.

The Rockville, Maryland company was recently awarded a $1.93 million Fast-Track Small Business Award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will be distributed over a two-and-a-half-year period with Phase I, equal to $252,000, being available immediately. The funds will help the company further develop its SoftSpot technology. The software tool helps with measuring and monitoring the heads of infants. PediaMetrix partnered with DC’s Children’s National Hospital for this project as part of the funding terms.

SoftSpot, which received FDA clearance last fall, is available for any smartphone and allows parents or physicians to scan an infant’s head for 10 seconds. With that scan, the software can use image processing and make calculations about the head, as well as determine whether or not next steps are necessary.

Reza Seifabadi, PediaMetrix’s cofounder and COO, said that this technology is crucial because pediatricians currently don’t have tools for measuring head shape, just size. Any deformities are thus only assessed visually before a child is directed to a specialist.

“Unfortunately, because of this gap, many patients are missed or are referred late, which results in higher healthcare outcomes and more intensive treatment options for babies,” Seifabadi told Technical.ly.

The company will use the funding to develop SoftSpot 3D, the next generation of its technology. SoftSpot is currently cleared to assess three conditions. With the new iteration, the company plans to make it possible to scan the entire head — even its 3D shape — so that it can help doctors diagnose any related condition.

To achieve this, PediaMetrix developers will be building the technology with state-of-the-art sensors. Information from the scans can then be uploaded to the company’s AWS-based cloud platform. With the collected information, the tech uses AI to help make a 3D reconstruction of the head before applying algorithms to classify different types of head deformities.

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The technology will be used to assess two different types of infant head deformities. One, called deformational plagiocephaly, is relatively common among infants. Babies often develop it while sleeping on their backs, per healthcare recommendations, to avoid sudden infant death syndrome. While the practice doesn’t tend to damage the brain, Seifabadi said that early detection can help babies avoid needing to wear a helmet for treatment.

The second type, called craniosynostosis, is when skull bones fuse together sooner than they should and thus prevent the brain from growing properly. Early detection of that, Seifabadi said, can help prevent things like blindness caused by craniosynostosis and help enable minimally invasive surgery.

Seifabadi said that making innovations in pediatrics can be challenging due to the small market. The funding from the NIH, he noted, will be a huge asset to the Maryland startup.

“This means a lot to us,” Seifabadi said. “It is allowing us to make innovation for something that affects the most vulnerable part of society”

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