News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

August 24, 2010

MANITOBA SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION EXPLORING USE OF NEW ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY



The Manitoba government will assist the Pan Am Clinic in working with Echometrix LLC to assess the use of innovative ultrasound technology to diagnose and treat soft-tissue injuries and conditions, Innovation, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak announced today.
 
“There’s no better place to test this new technology than right here in Manitoba at one of the country’s leading muscle, bone and joint disease clinics,” said Chomiak. “This technology may provide an effective and timely medical tool that could ultimately improve people’s healing experiences and significantly reduce the demand for MRI testing.”
 
Support of $150,000 will be provided through Manitoba’s Science and Technology International Collaboration (STIC) fund.
 
Echometrix, of Madison, Wis., has developed ultrasound technology that can measure the mechanical and functional properties of soft tissues. Their software, called EchoSoft, overlays standard ultrasound signals with a map of measurements of strain and stiffness, visually displaying the existing condition. The test can also be used to provide insight into how an injury or condition is changing or healing over time.  The functional analysis provided by EchoSoft is not currently available from any other imaging technology or analysis product on the market.
 
More than 300,000 patients from Manitoba and northwestern Ontario visit the Pan Am Clinic every year. The extensive number of patients and numerous specialized programs implemented within the clinic to prevent, diagnose and treat muscle, bone and joint disease, make it an ideal facility to investigate the validity and application of new technology, said Chomiak.
 
The minister said this collaboration will benefit both organizations through research, product development and deployment and, ultimately, improved patient satisfaction and enhanced quality of life for individuals suffering from muscle, bone and joint disease. Improving the health of patients also reduces the financial burden of muscle, bone and joint disease on the health-care system, he added.
 
The arrangement was made possible through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Wisconsin that was signed last October.  
 
This week, in partnership with the Life Science Association of Manitoba and the federal government, the provincial government is leading a Manitoba delegation to the state’s annual life-sciences conference. The Biotechnology Vision Summit will be attended by over 300 of the state’s life-science stakeholders. Manitoba’s life‑science industry capabilities and infrastructure will be prominently featured along with how Wisconsin companies and researchers can work with their counterparts in this province to create opportunities for growth and economic development under the MOU.
 
“This is a wonderful example of how partnerships will move the life-sciences sector forward,” said Tracey Maconachie, executive director, Life Sciences Association of Manitoba.  “Manitoba will continue to position itself as a leader in this field as a direct result of innovative collaborations like this.  Our organization, which is comprised of 80 diverse life-sciences businesses, congratulates Echometrix and the Pan Am Clinic and looks forward to their continued success.”
 
The STIC fund supporting the Echometrix and Pan Am Clinic collaboration helps Manitoba researchers increase their participation in international leading-edge scientific research, said Chomiak.  The fund leverages access to international research funds, raises the global profile of Manitoba research, and supports new, collaborative projects that can lead to increased commercial activity and economic benefits for Manitoba, he said.
 
The funding provides up to 50 per cent matching support for international research or commercialization projects between Manitoba and international partners.  Last year, STIC funding supported nine project grants and seven development grants totalling nearly $1 million, leveraging a further $1 million in matching funds from international partners. 
 
Partnerships funded through the agreement have helped Manitoba’s life science industry establish contacts around the world including partnerships in Israel, India, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and several American states. 
 
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