SickKids System Installation
Cerca's first commercial OPM-MEG system installation at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
Cerca Magnetics has successfully installed its first OPM-MEG system at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto for ground-breaking research into autism.
The 32 sensor Cerca system will be used by researchers to scan children who have been identified as having a higher likelihood of developing autism due to siblings having the neurodevelopmental disorder.
The system contains 32 QuSpin optically-pumped magnetometers mounted in the latest generation Cerca helmets to measure the extremely small fields generated by the brain. The Cerca Magnetics active field nulling coils meant it was possible to retro fit the system into a pre-existing magnetically shielded room.
World renowned neuroscientist Dr Margot Taylor is leading the Canadian study, that will scan the volunteer children from age 12 months onwards on a regular basis and track the development of brain function, looking for differences between those who do or do not develop autism.
Dr Taylor said: “Being an initial site for the Cerca OPM-MEG research system is incredible. For the Cerca team to have delivered the system on-time and with the achieved sensitivity and spatial accuracy, even in our busy city centre location and with the on-going challenges of travel during the pandemic, was truly excellent. We are very excited to be starting the longitudinal research study of brain function in the young siblings of children with autism and toddlers with autism. The Cerca OPM-MEG is essential for this cutting-edge research that was simply not previously possible.”
The installation in Canada was led by Dr Ryan Hill, who two years ago using an earlier prototype system in Nottingham, became the first person to scan toddlers using the technology. In late July this year, he took on the challenge of installing the Toronto system, a job made significantly more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Hill said: “In Nottingham, we are fortunate to have an environment relatively free from magnetic interference, but this is not the case for many institutions around the world (such as SickKids), where busy traffic, building work, metro systems, and other infrastructure in a busy city create a lot of magnetic interference. Thanks to the help and collaboration of the team at SickKids during the development of our system, we have been able to mitigate these problems, and successfully acquire high quality brain imaging data in young children and adults alike, including participants with dental wires that could not be scanned in traditional systems.”
David Woolger CEO of Cerca said: “It is incredible to have installed our first system at a world leading research site twelve months to the day after the formation of Cerca. This is all down to the incredible hard work and effort by the team. It has been amazing to work with such talented and motivated people and I am excited to move forward with the next challenge, which is the move to clinical approval for the device as part of the treatment pathway for epilepsy. To be involved with this groundbreaking device which has the ability to improve the lives of so many children with neurological conditions is extraordinary.”