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  • X-ray technology company Micro-X (MX1) is receiving an $8 million grant from the Australian Stroke Alliance (ASA) to develop a unique brain CT scanner
  • Micro-X is a member of the ASA, which was recently awarded $40 million through the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund Frontier Health Program
  • Micro-X will use the $8 million to develop a low-cost, compact brain CT scanner to improve pre-hospital stroke diagnosis and treatment
  • Currently, stroke patients in remote and rural areas face significant diagnosis and treatment delays — putting them at a higher risk of permanent disability
  • A smaller, lower-cost brain CT scanner that can be mounted in any road or air ambulances would put Micro-X and the ASA at the forefront of global best practice in stroke care
  • Company shares are up 9.33 per cent and are trading at 41 cents

Micro-X (MX1) is receiving an $8 million grant from the Australian Stroke Alliance (ASA) to develop a lightweight brain CT scanner.

The funding is being awarded under the Australian Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontier Health Program.

Grant overview

On February 26, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the government will invest $100 million through the MRFF’s Frontier Health Program across three projects. This is aimed at supporting the development of new technologies to improve diagnosis and treatment of stroke, epilepsy and lung disease.

Of the three projects, the MRFF has awarded $40 million to the ASA for its “Stroke Golden Hour” project proposal to transform pre-hospital stroke care in road and air ambulances.

The award is considered to be one of the largest medical research grants to ever be granted in Australia. However, it’s subject to formal contracting requirements, which are expected to be completed in the next few months.

Micro-X’s involvement

Micro-X is a member of the ASA and was selected to join because its unique cold cathode x-ray technology offers the potential to miniaturise diagnostic brain CT imaging. A smaller and more affordable scanner would allow widespread pre-hospital stroke diagnosis and treatment in road and air ambulances offering stroke care in remote regions.

The global market for an in-ambulance CT scanner is estimated to be $25 billion. If stroke diagnosis and treatment is delayed patients are at risk of permanent disability, which can cost healthcare systems up to $150,000 per patient per year.

Conventional CT scanners are very expensive and large which means they’re not well suited for road transportation.

Micro-X’s vision is to use its unique technology to create a low-cost CT scanner that works the same, if not better, with no moving parts and is compact enough to be mounted in any ambulance.

“Lightweight, portable and affordable brain CT imaging is the next frontier in stroke care. The tyranny of distance is a huge barrier – if you have a stroke in rural or remote parts of Australia, you are up to twice as likely as city stroke survivors to be left with a serious, lifelong disability,” Melbourne Brain Centre Co-Chief Investigator Professor Geoffrey Donnan said.

As the ASA’s x-ray imaging partner, Micro-X already completed imaging trials on cadavers with the Melbourne Brain Centre before starting to develop cone beam tomographic image reconstruction algorithms.

As the trials showed encouraging performance, the company will utilise the $8 million funding to develop the “Ring Scanner” brain CT imager and refine image processing algorithms with the Melbourne Brain Centre.

This will help to validate Micro-X’s technology and form a basis for product regulatory approvals.

“The compact, rugged, low-cost CT scanner which Micro-X will develop under this program will be a global first never before imagined,” Micro-X Managing Director Peter Rowland said.

“Together, this unique collaboration puts Australia and the Australian Stroke Alliance at the very forefront of global best practice in stroke care,” Peter said.

Company shares are up 9.33 per cent and are trading at 41 cents at 1:04 pm AEDT.

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