Commercialization ramps up on Ohio State University treadmill used for MRI heart tests

An Ohio State University researcher is developing an MRI-compatible treadmill that could better measure heart function and blood flow at the peak of stress. The device, which could cut down on multiple tests and catch some heart problems earlier, may be ready for clinical testing in three months.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio State University researcher will shift his development of an MRI-compatible treadmill to his start-up company with plans to have a device ready for clinical testing in three months.

The treadmill could give physicians a way to measure a patient’s heart during peak stress more accurately than the echocardiographic and nuclear imaging processes now widely used. MRIs and traditional treadmills can’t work alongside one another because their respective magnetic parts aren’t compatible, according to a university press release.

Orlando “Lon” Simonetti wants to build a treadmill without magnetic parts, including substituting a hydraulic motor for an electric one that uses a magnetic coil. Ohio State announced Thursday it had transferred the researchto Simonetti’s start-up, EXCMR Ltd., which will spend the next year building and testing the treadmill prototype.

The company could begin production on a finished product by the middle of next year, said Simonetti, an associate professor of internal medicine and radiology at Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

Simonetti said his early research shows that administering an MRI immediately after stepping off a treadmill can better measure heart function and blood flow and, as a result, cut down on the need for multiple testing, catching some heart problems earlier.

EXCMR was formed a year ago to prepare for Thursday’s technology transfer. In that time, the company raised about $240,000 in funding from organizations including TechColumbus and the Global Cardiovascular Innovations Center in Cleveland. The company is awaiting word on a Small Business Technology Transfer grant application, and Simonetti expects to raise more money to fund production.