Allan MacLeod Cormack, having studied physics at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, was seconded by UCT to Groote Schuur Hospital as a nuclear physicist. Convinced there was a better way to measure the attenuation of x-rays passing through the body, he found it, subsequently publishing his algorithm in the Journal of Applied Physics (34: 2722-2727, 1963).
Cormack and Godfrey Hounsfield shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their independent research that underpinned the development of computer assisted tomography. Click here for the full story.
De Beers, with annual revenues of over $6 billion, established that 20% of its uncut diamonds was being stolen by its own workers. It therefore developed a very low dose digital x-ray scanner to image the whole body.
De Beers and UCT secured $1.5 million in funding from the Innovation Fund to develop the LODOX (low dose x-ray machines) technology for medical applications. They set up a joint venture company, African Medical Imaging (Pty) Ltd, known as AMI, to exploit the technology for diagnostic imaging.
De Beers spun out a separate company, Lodox Systems (Pty) Ltd, to focus explicitly on trauma applications. The next year it obtained regulatory approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and began to market its x-ray scanner system in the USA and elsewhere.
AMI developed two key pieces of intellectual property (IP) based on Lodox technology: limited angle computer tomography and circular scanning digital mammography, and a United States patent (6,788,758) was subsequently awarded. AMI then became a shelf company in which the IP was located.
Based on the IP developed by AMI, Kit Vaughan and Tania Douglas secured $275,000 in funding from the National Institutes of Health (R21CA101705) to develop the innovative mammography project for breast screening. Michael Evans subsequently joined the team as the system architect and design engineer.
Kit published a biography on Allan Cormack, entitled Imagining the Elephant. The UCT team built a successful digital mammography system, published their findings in Physics in Medicine and Biology (54: 1533-1553, 2009) and developed a business plan to secure venture capital funding.
Kit and his management team secured $2 million in venture capital funding from the IDC. The IDC purchased an equity stake in AMI, UCT retained a small stake and the balance was held by management and employees. Having been a shelf company for six years, AMI began operations again.
AMI changed its name to CapeRay Medical (Pty) Ltd. It registered the domain http://www.caperay.com and began to develop a new digital mammography system, incorporating the functions of a low dose digital x-ray machine and breast ultrasound.
In June 2012, CapeRay received certification from SGS United Kingdom Ltd, a Notified Body to the following ISO quality management standards — ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485. The CE mark was also awarded for the Pandia digital X-ray camera, in compliance with Directive 93/42/EEC on medical devices.