Just under a year after obtaining the certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)pediatric software company PediaMetrix has scored a huge boost in funding.
The Rockville, Maryland company recently received $1.93 million Fast Track Small Business Award of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Researchwhich 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, equivalent to $252,000, available immediately. The funds will help the company be soft spot technology. The software tool helps measure and monitor infants’ heads. PediaMetrix partners with DCs National Children’s Hospital for this project as part of the financing conditions.
SoftSpot, which was approved by the FDA last fall, is available for any smartphone and allows parents or doctors to scan a baby’s head for 10 seconds. With that scan, the software can use image processing, make overhead calculations, and determine whether further steps are needed.
Reza SeifabadicPediaMetrix co-founder and COO said this technology is critical because pediatricians currently have no tools to measure head shape, only size. Thus, any deformities are only visually assessed before a child is referred to a specialist.
“Unfortunately, because of this gap, many patients are missed or referred late, resulting in higher care outcomes and more intensive treatment options for babies,” Seifabadi said. Technically.
The company will use the funding to SoftSpot 3D, the next generation of its technology. SoftSpot is currently approved to assess three conditions. With the new iteration, the company aims to make it possible to scan the entire head — even the 3D shape — so it can help doctors diagnose any related condition.
To achieve this, PediaMetrix developers will build the technology with state-of-the-art sensors. Information from the scans can then be uploaded to the company AWSbased cloud platform. With the information gathered, the tech uses AI to create a 3D reconstruction of the head before applying algorithms to classify different types of head deformities.
The technology will be used to assess two different types of head deformities in babies. One, called deformative plagiocephaly, is relatively common in infants. Babies often develop it while sleeping on their backs, according to health care recommendations, to prevent SIDS. While the practice doesn’t damage the brain, Seifabadi said early detection could help babies avoid having to wear helmets for treatment.
The second type, called craniosynostosis, is when skull bones fuse earlier than they should, preventing the brain from growing properly. Early detection of it, Seifabadi said, can help prevent things like blindness caused by craniosynostosis and allow for minimally invasive surgery.
Seifabadi said innovations in pediatrics can be challenging due to the small market. Funding from the NIH, he noted, will be a huge asset to the Maryland startup.
“This means a lot to us,” Seifabadi said. “It allows us to make innovation for something that touches the most vulnerable part of society”