Dartmouth Startup DoseOptics Gets $2 Million Grant From NIH

Valley News

October 1, 2016

By John Lippman

DoseOptics, the Dartmouth-affiliated startup that has pioneered imaging technology to provide a live image of radiation therapy while it is being administered to a patient, has secured $2 million more in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The funding, which will go toward further refining the company’s imaging system in its clinical trails, will be disbursed to the company over the next two years. Together with two earlier grants, the most recent award brings to $3.4 million the total funding DoseOptics has received from NIH.

Founded by Thayer School of Engineering professors Brian Pogue and Scott Davis and Thayer alumnus William Ware, the company was set up to translate discoveries in cancer imaging and therapy into commercial applications. DoseOptics’ technology captures low-intensity emissions known as “Cherenkov light” that is emitted when a radiation beam interacts with the targeted tissue.

The resulting images make it possible to “visualize” the radiation in real time, making it easier to adjust the dose and aim of the beam in order to reduce damage to healthy cells.

Pogue, who holds dual appointments as professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth and professor of surgery at Geisel School of Medicine, said DoseOptics is beginning Phase II clinical trials and hopes to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration for commercial use within the next year.

“It’s a diagnostic system, not a treatment system, so the approval process is not as strict” as that for medications, which can take many years before they are allowed to go on the market, Pogue said.

Pogue said the company, working in collaboration with the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, has so far “imaged” about 20 patients. Agreements are also in place with medical facilities affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Stanford and Washington University in St. Louis to be “early trial centers” for the technology, he said.

The cost for a medical treatment facility to acquire DoseOptics’ equipment and technology will not be burdensome, Pogue said. “For the final product it will be in the ballpark of under $100,0000, which is cheap in the radiation therapy world, where the equipment costs millions,” he said.

So far DoseOptics, which is based at the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center incubator in the Centerra office park in Lebanon, has only five employees — the three founding partners plus two other professionals. Pogue said they are in the process of hiring two others. Other than some seed money Pogue and Ware kicked in, all the funding to date has come from the government, although Pogue said they may seek to raise financing from private investors as they move closer to, or following, regulatory approval. “We actually have so much money right now, we need to spend some and get some work done,” he said. “So we’re in a very fortunate position.”

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