NIH Considers Licensing Medical Imaging Methods

The deadline for comments and applications is May 10, 2012
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The U.S. government is considering granting an exclusive license to practice methods of processing medical image data to extract information about organ structure and reconstruct the anatomical image in a virtual 3D model to detect anomalies.

On April 10, 2012, the National Institutes of Health posted a Federal Register notice—Prospective Grant of Exclusive License: Method for Segmenting Medical Images and Detecting Surface Anomalies in Anatomical Structures—seeking written comments and/or applications for a license for the inventions for which patents were issued and are now held by the United States. The deadline for comments and applications is May 10, 2012.

The NIH lists three patents “for segmenting medical images and detecting surface anomalies in anatomical structures” by Ronald M. Summers. The numbers for each patent, the dates they were filed and the dates they were issued are:

Patent number 6,246,784 filed Aug. 18, 1998 and issued June 12, 2001

Patent number 6,345,112 filed Jan. 19, 2001 and issued Feb. 5, 2002

Patent number 6,556,696 filed Feb. 5, 2002 and issued April 29, 2003

The invention relates to methods of processing medical image data to extract information about organ structure and reconstruct the anatomical image in a virtual 3D model to detect anomalies, the notice says. The patented methods help solve imaging problems such as image “leakage,” which causes distortion, overloads datasets and slows the 3D modeling display.

Once the image is assembled, additional processing methods can detect surface anomalies by comparing the curvature characteristics of anatomy to curvature characteristics anomalies, the notice says. The anomalies in the image can be colorized or otherwise identified in the image to enhance detection, which is helpful to identify harmful features such as precancerous polyps or other anomalies, according to NIH.

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