HomeNews & MediaPress ReleasesPress Release 
January 23, 2003
For Immediate Release

Media Contact
Helen Worth
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, MD 20723
Phone: 240-228-5113 or 443-778-5113

Johns Hopkins Options Heart Diagnostics Technologies to Zargis Medical Corporation

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., has signed an exclusive option with Zargis Medical Corp., Princeton, N.J., a spin-off of Siemens Corporate Research, to license heart diagnostic technologies developed jointly by researchers at APL and the Hopkins School of Medicine (SOM) in Baltimore.

This strategic agreement presents a significant opportunity for APL to collaborate with Zargis in extending their joint capabilities to address areas of cardiac acoustic research.

The option includes two technologies: a system and method — based on algorithms — for diagnosing pathological heart conditions; and the Cardiac Auscultatory Recording Database (CARD). Together, these technologies form an automated system able to detect abnormal heart sounds and distinguish between innocent heart murmurs that may be confused with pathological murmurs in a patient. The system is expected to lessen the need for costly referrals to cardiologists and use of echocardiography to identify pathologic conditions.

Experienced cardiologists are able to distinguish pathologic from innocent heart murmurs with a high degree of accuracy using a simple stethoscope," says Dr. W. Reid Thompson, a pediatric cardiologist at the SOM. "We are trying to emulate the essential aspects of this auditory recognition sequence in a computerized algorithm that uses data from a standard electronic stethoscope, so that general practitioners can achieve the same level of accuracy."

The technologies provide a screening tool for heart ailments. By applying advanced signal processing techniques (informed by the contents of a database of more than 6,000 recordings from over 1,000 individuals) to recordings of a patient's heart sounds, healthcare workers - including physicians, home care providers and other caregivers who do not have the skill of a cardiologist - can distinguish between innocent and pathological conditions of the heart.

This work is a natural follow-on to signal processing techniques and algorithms we've developed for detecting and classifying submarines," says APL physicist Scott Hayek, who developed the algorithms and methodology for evaluating heart sounds. "The collaboration with the School of Medicine has been key in effectively redirecting our defense experience."

"Access to the CARD data will enable us to demonstrate that we can detect various normal and abnormal heart sounds from a large, prerecorded clinical database using our technology," says Shahram Hejazi, chief executive officer of Zargis. "We look forward to joint R-and-D efforts with the Hopkins team and applying our capabilities in commercializing the results."

Commercial development of the technologies could lead to products that non-specialists can use to screen populations for heart abnormalities, particularly in rural settings, where advanced diagnostic procedures are either unavailable or too costly. And other applications could include pulmonary diagnostic devices, telemedicine services, and medical education tools

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine strives to provide international leadership in the education of physicians and medical scientists, in biomedical research, and in the application of medical knowledge to patient care. For information, visit www.hopkinsmedicine.org.

Zargis Medical Corp. was formed in January 2001 when Siemens Corporate Research, Inc. and Speedus (NASDAQ: SPDE) announced their co-investment in Zargis to further develop and commercialize an advanced acoustic technology for detecting heart murmurs and other cardiac abnormalities. Based in Princeton, N.J., Zargis is developing advanced diagnostic decision-support products and services for primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals. For further information, visit their web site at www.zargis.com. Contact: Guy Pierce, (732) 906-3805; guy.pierce@siemens.com.