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Asto CT Envisions Better Imaging Tech for Horses, Other Animals

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anesthesia, they are rarely imaged for diagnostic purposes. Typically, a CT scan is only ordered when it’s already been decided that an animal will have surgery, he says.

Asto CT expects that when it starts shipping its machines in May 2017, they will cost about $650,000 apiece. Ergun says the first one will likely be finished in January, at which point his team will start using it to image live horses. According to company materials, an FDA clearance is not required for veterinary imaging devices.

The startup also plans to offer a mobile imaging service, where it would bring machines out to stables where horses are boarded. Ergun says the manufacturer his company is working with to develop its device, Boxboro, MA-based PhotoDiagnostic Systems, has experience building industrial-grade baggage scanners for use in airports. Asto CT’s machine would be more rugged than many of the systems designed for human use, he says.

Even though horses are the primary animal mentioned on Asto CT’s website and in marketing materials, the company says that Equina could also potentially be used to image smaller animals such as dogs and cats.

Besides Ergun, the startup’s other three co-founders are: Peter Muir, a surgeon at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine; Mark Markel, dean of UW-Madison’s vet school; and Rock Mackie, a serial entrepreneur and engineering professor at the university. Ergun is Asto CT’s sole full-time employee, though the company has hired contractors for things like developing the user interface for the software a veterinarian would use to operate one of the devices.

Earlier this week, Ergun was in Orlando, FL for a trade show organized by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. He says there were representatives from other businesses developing CT scanners for horses at the convention, including New York-based Equine 4DDI. Ergun says that company’s device was originally designed for human use and has been amended to accommodate larger creatures. He believes the fact that his company is building its machine from the ground up with animals in mind gives it an advantage over Equine 4DDI’s scanner, which he called “expensive.”

The race is on.

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