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Springboard-Supported Ear-Imaging Technology Subject Of Licensing Agreement

People suffering from hearing loss — and their doctors — will likely appreciate a miniature ear-imaging probe held up by one of its inventors before a Halifax audience Tuesday.

“With this miniaturized high-resolution endoscope we can resolve structures in the middle and inner ear in much greater detail than ever before possible,” said Jeremy Brown, an engineering physicist at Dalhousie University.

Development of the tiny imaging device is the result of a collaboration between Capital Health and Dalhousie University’s department of biomedical and electrical engineering.

“The high-quality imaging is not limited to the inner ear; there is a range of applications for the technology,” said Chris Power, president and CEO of Capital Health.

University and health authority officials were on hand at the Life Sciences Research Institute in Halifax to cheer a licensing agreement achieved with Toronto’s Colibri Technologies Inc.

Royalties returned to Capital Health and Dalhousie through the deal will be reinvested in research programs, a news release said.

“Others have marketed imaging devices that matched the resolution, but there is nothing compatible in such a compact size,” Brian Courtney, president and CEO of Colibri Technologies, said in an interview.

He said the tiny hand-held scanner will be commercially available to clinicians and their patients by 2018.

The agreement announced Tuesday provides Colibri Technologies with patents for advanced technologies developed in Halifax to enable the Toronto company to produce and market the miniature probe.

“We are at a very exciting phase in the commercialization of the research, as clinicians and potential investors can actually see how technology works,” Courtney said.

After years of research and product development, it was time for some of the participating researchers to make a little noise.

“The development of this miniature device illustrates the crude state of much of the imaging technology available today,” said Dr. Manohar Bance, an ear, nose and throat specialist with Capital Health.

“Clinicians will be able to actually see what they are doing when treating a patient suffering hearing loss.”

He said clinicians around the world who have only surgical access to the middle ear will enthusiastically welcome the probe.

A screen-projected comparison of a CT scan of the middle ear and one obtained by the Halifax research team illustrated the improvement in image quality.

Prototypes for the probe were developed through a $3.8-million Capital Health-led research and development effort that included a $2.6-million investment from the Atlantic Innovation Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.