VisualSonics (www.visualsonics.com) markets and develops high-resolution, micro-ultrasound imaging systems to life science researchers worldwide.
The company launched its Vevo™ micro-ultrasound platform in 2003. By 2005, VisualSonics had sold over 200 systems, experienced a 145% compounded annual growth rate, reached $24 million in annualized sales, and obtained ISO 9001:2000 registration. All this good news comes from making ultrasound for mice, says Tom Little, president and CEO of VisualSonics, based in Toronto.
VisualSonics’ Vevo 770 high-resolution, micro-ultrasound imaging system offers preclinical researchers a new way to view and quantify minute physiological structures and functions in vivo and in real time with near microscopic resolution. Researchers are using the Vevo 770 to quantify angiogenesis, tumor growth, cardiovascular disease, and plaque formation in small animal models. “We specifically tailored ultrasound for the preclinical research market,” Little says.
In general, ultrasound is the most widely installed clinical-imaging modality, and most people are familiar with its ability to image pregnancies. These clinical ultrasound units operate at less than 15 megahertz and have a resolution of 300 microns, which is perfect for viewing a human pregnancy, according to Little.
At the University of Toronto, biophysicist Stuart Foster, Ph.D., wanted to improve ultrasound to view smaller structures, such as arteries and blood flowing through them. He tinkered with the physics of ultrasound and boosted the frequency to 85 megahertz, thereby increasing resolution to 30 microns. To commercialize his micro-ultrasound prototype, Dr. Foster founded VisualSonics in 1999, and he serves as its chairman and CSO.