HomeNews & MediaPress ReleasesPress Release 
January 27, 2005
For Immediate Release

Media Contact
Paulette Campbell
JHU Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone: 240-228-6792 or 443-778-6792

APL Licenses Computerized Heart Sound Analysis Techniques

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., has signed an exclusive agreement with Zargis Medical Corp., of Princeton, N.J., to license computer-assisted heart sound analysis technology developed jointly by researchers at APL and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.

The technology—a pathologic murmur screening system—was developed over the last six years as part of the Lab's work in signal processing techniques and algorithms originally created for detecting and classifying submarines.

"Just as the Navy has been listening to ocean sounds for years to distinguish a whale from a submarine, so have cardiologists been listening to distinguish between normal heart sounds and pathological ones," explains APL physicist Scott Hayek. "Signal processing technology can be used for both tasks."

Early Work

APL's involvement in this area began in the mid-1990s, when a team including the National Security Technology Department's Joe Lombardo, Lisa Blodgett and Chuck Cooperman set about applying time-frequency analysis to the detection of pathologic heart conditions with a stethoscope.

Hayek extended this work, joining forces with Reid Thompson, M.D., a cardiologist with the School of Medicine, and his large and growing set of comprehensive heart sound files collected at the School of Medicine . Together, Hayek and Thompson developed a wavelet-based, time-frequency murmur diagnostic instrument.

Studies have shown that primary care physicians often refer patients to cardiologists at the first sign of a suspicious heart sound, and often many of these patients don't have a pathological condition. These needless referrals result in wasted money, needless worry and administrative burdens.

According to Hayek, an automated analysis of digitized clinical information, such as heart sounds, could have major implications for healthcare delivery systems using telemedicine, for primary care physicians and for settings where a trained health professional is not always available, i.e., pre-sports participation physicals and exams performed in remote areas.

Zargis and APL

The license with the Lab will give Zargis exclusive commercial rights to APL's signal processing algorithms and other intellectual property, including an extensive cardiac research database of some 6,500 recordings from more than 1,200 individuals. Under the agreement, Zargis also will support further research at APL and the School of Medicine to continue development of the technology.

"The APL technology is a welcome supplement to our patented algorithms and FDA-authorized murmur detection product," says John Kallassy, the managing director of Zargis Medical. "The agreement between Zargis' and JHU's Applied Physics Laboratory will not only enable us to expedite our product development pipeline in this field, but also accelerate any potential clinical adoption."

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.