Mars Bioimaging: revolutionising medical imaging

May 2, 2024

X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, MRI’s – many of us are familiar with the range of medical imaging currently available to help health professionals understand what might be happening inside our bodies.

Yet their future potential is restricted by several factors. The use of black & white and low-resolution images may result in small but critical details being overlooked, which could potentially have a significant impact on health outcomes if not identified promptly. Additionally, their affordability, specialist infrastructure requirements and limited availability at point-of-care settings can be challenging, particularly when timely access is imperative.

Revolutionising these technology developments, Mars Bioimaging has developed the world’s first colour CT imaging system, which is considered to be a game-changer in medical diagnostics because it shows what is happening in our bodies in a way that has never been achieved before. Because it doesn’t require specialist infrastructure it can be used to improve medical diagnosis at the point of care at a lower cost, and the high-resolution images will enable doctors to see colour images from inside the body, facilitating faster and more accurate diagnosis at lower radiation doses.


So why did we invest?

The Mars Bioimaging value proposition was compelling:

  1. The alignment of the opportunity to one of our thematic – the future of health,
  2. The potential size of the market opportunity,
  3. The composition of the team – their drivers for success and expertise,
  4. The potential health and societal benefits of the technology,
  5. The pathway to commercialisation and competitive advantage,
  6. Our ability to add strategic value beyond capital.

Mars was founded by father and son, Prof Phil Butler (physicist) and Prof Anthony Butler (Prof of Radiology, MD, BSc Physics and PhD Machine Learning) following Anthony's work at CERN to develop the Medipix3 photon counting chips, to which Mars now holds the exclusive license for medical imaging at the point of care.

By enhancing surgical decision-making, reducing reliance on scans, and expediating the decision-making process, orthopedic surgeons and patients derive economic value and social benefits from Mars’ technology. Additionally, purchasers of these devices, namely hospital systems, orthopedic clinics and radiology practices, stand to gain considerable value, particularly those which are financially constrained.

  • Hospitals can deploy these systems in outpatient clinics to streamline the path from patient presentation to surgery, increasing patient throughput and driving profitability.
  • Small clinics not only get enhanced patient throughput but also have the opportunity to internalise imaging revenue.
  • Radiology centres can transition extremity scanning from large full-body scanners with high capital and operational costs to point-of-care settings, where costs are lower and revenues more consistent. This shift not only optimises resource utilisation but also aligns with broader trend of radiologists providing their services via teleradiology.


The technology explained:

Unlike conventional medical imaging techniques, the Mars scanner counts photons, so the images are higher quality, the device is miniaturised, and the radiation is lower—all factors that allow it to be used at the point of care.  

Because it shows the different components of the body like fat, water, calcium, and disease markers, it facilitates a high level of accuracy in assessing the patient and unlike a PET scan or MRI, which have high associated costs and require specialist infrastructure, the aim of the MARS scanner is to make it easy to operate (the team often refer to a dentist’s X-ray in terms of ease of use) and accessible in point-of-care locations.


What next:

The future is incredibly promising for patients, health professionals and health systems worldwide. The company has undertaken pre-clinical and clinical trials in NZ, the results of which have been validated by NZ radiologists and surgeons, and radiologists at Imperial College London. Mars has already generated research-based revenue from top hospitals and global institutions, and the company’s first US clinical customer, a top-ranked orthopaedics hospital, has commenced clinical trials on the device at its own cost.

In our view, and why we invested, Mars’ technology will be a game changer in medical diagnostics and ultimately will move us another step forward in improving health outcomes, socially and economically.