This article was initially published in French on infobref.com
Modern medicine can detect certain warning signs of stroke. But doing so accurately is complicated and resource-intensive.
Sonaro, a Montreal-based start-up, has designed a software program that facilitates the detection of stroke risk factors in people predisposed to this type of accident.
The problem the company is tackling is the difficulty of detecting the warning signs of stroke in people at risk. “Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide,” explains Karina Gasbarrino, co-founder and COO of Sonaro. One in four people over the age of 25 will suffer one in their lifetime.” Strokes are often caused by the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries. If they break away from the wall, these deposits can obstruct blood flow to the brain.
Modern medicine can detect dangerous deposits using ultrasound examinations of the arteries. But this kind of examination is complex. A specialist must be available to obtain and interpret the 2-D images. The images are not always eloquent, and the error rate is high. Misdiagnosis and repeat examinations are costly – around US$8 billion a year in the United States,” says Karina Gasbarrino.
Sonaro’s solution is a software service that uses biomedical data and artificial intelligence to build 3D images of arteries possibly blocked by fatty deposits. To build the 3D image, the software uses both images from ultrasound examinations performed on the patient and a medical database containing tens of thousands of images of the human body. “Our software can interpret the patient’s images and then, using the database, reconstruct a virtual representation of the blood vessel at risk”, explains Karina Gasbarrino.
This method simplifies analysis, making it faster and less costly. These advantages are particularly attractive in remote areas, where there is often a shortage of medical specialists,” emphasizes the entrepreneur.
The company’s business model is to sell access to its software to medical centers specializing in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The centers pay for each model they ask the software to produce.
The company is not yet at the marketing stage. Its 10-strong team is working on fine-tuning the functioning of the artificial intelligence system, with a view to commercializing the software next year.
Sonaro is one of 20 start-ups selected this year in Startup Montréal’s Bourse+ program.
This summer, Sonaro is preparing to launch a pilot project in collaboration with a major Quebec hospital. Also this year, the company plans to conclude a pre-seed financing round.
The next step, in the medium term, will be to obtain the necessary government approvals to commercialize the software,” says Karina Gasbarrino. The Montreal-based start-up will first target the United States, as this type of approval is easier to obtain there. In the longer term, the entrepreneur wants to adapt her technology so that it can prevent other diseases involving the cardiovascular system.
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