CQDM funds a collaborative research project between the RI-MUHC and Divocco AI to develop an artificial intelligence-driven technology that improves regional anesthesia


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Montreal, Quebec, December 8, 2022 – CQDM is pleased to announce the funding of a research study carried out at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in collaboration with Divocco AI, a Montreal-based company focusing on perioperative care improvement using artificial intelligence (AI)-derived medical devices. The funding, totalling $1,057,502, was made possible by a grant of $325,327 from the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie (MEIE) via CQDM, as well as a $732,175 contribution from Divocco AI.

“CQDM is proud to support this exciting collaboration. Thanks to the MEIE, this funding will allow the research team to use cutting-edge technology to create an innovative tool that has the potential to transform how we approach anesthesia and pain management,” said Véronique Dugas, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at CQDM.

The project constitutes a significant advance in the field of medical AI. Nerve block, the procedure to inject a medicine onto or near specific nerves to prevent or manage pain, has revolutionized the anesthesia and surgery, as well as the chronic pain management fields. The Intelligent Technology in Anesthesia research group (ITAG), led by Dr. Thomas Hemmerling, Scientist in the Injury Repair Recovery Program at the RI-MUHC and Professor in the Department of Anesthesia at McGill University, in collaboration with Divocco AI, aims to optimize the use of nerve blocks for regional anesthesia. To achieve this, the team will develop a software to identify nerves in ultrasound images with high accuracy (\’NerveGPS\’) and a decision support tool that will guide users in performing the procedure by providing clinical suggestions on the optimal type and dose of medication to use.

“The ITAG and I are thrilled to receive financial support from CQDM, accelerating the development of the NerveGPS, bringing light to our work, and enabling post-graduate students to refine their engineering knowledge. For the last 15 years, we have been working on cutting-edge perioperative technologies, and through this collaboration with Divocco, the path is clearer than ever to bring our products to market,” said Dr. Thomas Hemmerling, director of the ITAG laboratory.

“This collaboration is a great opportunity for our Montreal-based company to grow in the exciting world of medical technologies and to bring some attention to the NerveGPS, one of the AI-derived technologies currently in our pipeline. With this fund injection, we will accelerate R&D by recruiting highly talented engineers and by acquiring cutting-edge technologies,” said Dr. Pascal Laferrière-Langlois, co-founder at Divocco AI.

This study will allow Divocco AI to develop one of its first marketable products, accelerate its technological and economic expansion, and become an important leader in the development and commercialization of AI-derived healthcare products. The technology will have considerable benefits for both clinicians and patients by enabling more anesthesiologists to be trained to utilize nerve blocks safely, and also by improving the duration and efficacy of the procedure. These benefits will also have an immediate impact on the healthcare system, by improving the quality and cost of care. In addition, this project will increase Quebec’s positioning in the AI field, contribute to the training of physicians and scientists with dual competencies (health and AI), and significantly contribute to showcasing Quebec’s innovativeness and skills.

About CQDM

CQDM is a biopharmaceutical research consortium whose mission is to fund the development of innovative technologies and tools to accelerate the discovery and development of safer and more effective drugs. It provides a hub where major global pharmaceutical companies, several Canadian biotechnology companies, the best researchers from the public and private sectors, as well as the governments of Quebec and Canada converge. CQDM’s collaborative approach allows it to meet the needs for innovation funding in the academic and private sectors, particularly in the early stages of research. Information— LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Divocco AI

Divocco AI is a Montreal-based start-up company bringing artificial intelligence to the operating room to better treat patients. Through close collaboration with anesthesiologists and surgeons, the company is developing numerous intelligent medical devices at varying stages of development, all of which are creating a synergistic collaboration between physicians and their products. Information: Divoccoai.com, LinkedIn.

About the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and healthcare research centre. The institute, which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)—an academic health centre located in Montreal, Canada, that has a mandate to focus on complex care within its community. The RI-MUHC supports over 450 researchers and around 1,200 research trainees devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental, clinical and health outcomes research at the Glen and the Montreal General Hospital sites of the MUHC. Its research facilities offer a dynamic multidisciplinary environment that fosters collaboration and leverages discovery aimed at improving the health of individual patients across their lifespan. The RI-MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec — Santé (FRQS). Website: rimuhc.ca

For more information

Sandra Constantin, Project Manager

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